Critical Conversations: (Big) Data, Algorithms & Interfaces

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Date: February 20, 2020
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Student Center Hilberry B | Map
5221 Gullen Mall
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Lunch

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Critical Conversations: (Big) Data, Algorithms & Interfaces 

Regulating Social Media Platforms and User-Generated Content
Conversation Facilitated by Nic DePaula

February 20, 12pm - 1:30pm
Student Center - Hilberry B

Despite their ubiquitous presence in people's lives, social media platforms are still young technologies of barely 15 years. Given their massive influence on people’s attention span, conditions and behaviors, there are many questions that may be asked about how they should be regulated. Social media platforms are already regulated by governments in a number of ways (e.g. via existing information and technology policies; in Europe via GDPR; in California now via CCPA, etc.). But are the current regulations sufficient? The platforms themselves already regulate content to a great extent (e.g. by attempting to remove terrorist propaganda), and newsfeed algorithms are regulatory systems in-and-of themselves. However, are there shortcomings in the existing laws, or excessive regulations already? Should the platforms and/or the algorithms themselves be further regulated by government authorities? What about the employment of “fact-checking?” Is this wise or feasible? If possible, how would such an activity be carried out? If regulatory issues are or are not addressed, what consequences might we observe? In this critical conversation, Prof. DePaula will introduce various issues concerning social media and content regulation, and will engage with the participants in an open conversation on this topic. Participants are also encouraged to contribute ideas to a live document or via written notes for a blog post to be produced for this conversation.

Nic DePaula is an Instructor at the School of Information Sciences. He teaches on topics of information technology, data science, and media and society. His research examines information technology adoption in the public sector, how language and discourse are used by government agencies on social media sites, and how these activities relate to functions and goals of executive government agencies. His work also examines political communication on new media, e-petitioning processes on the Internet, and media reporting on the environment. His work has been published on journals such as Government Information Quarterly, Social Science Computer Review, and First Monday.

About the Event Series:

Critical Conversations is a series of intimate, catered luncheons exploring common research agendas and practices that focus on (big) data, algorithms, and interfaces at individual, community, and societal levels. Each luncheon covers a unique topic led by a Wayne State University (WSU) faculty currently conducting related research. Topics are intentionally open and broad to invite researchers from across campus to join and partake in the conversation. Lunch will be provided.

For more information visit



March 26: Decolonizing Data:  Ethnocentrism, Cultural Bias, and a New Technological Ethics
Facilitated by Jennifer Hart

April 16: Disparities in Genomic Medicine
Facilitated by Fabrice Smieliauskas

Monthly luncheons will be hosted on Thursdays 12pm – 1:30pm. Lunch will be provided.


Critical Conversations is sponsored by the Provost’s Office.



Jessica Rajko




Academic staff, Current students, Faculty