Jonathan Corpus Ong

Jonathan
Corpus
Ong
Associate Professor, Global Digital Media
Research Fellow 2020-2021, Shorenstein Center, Harvard Kennedy School
N354 Integrative Learning Center
Summer 2022: By appointment
Bio: 

Jonathan Corpus Ong (PhD, Cambridge) is Associate Professor of Global Digital Media at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. In 2020-2022, he is also Research Fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center for the Technology and Social Change Project. He was recently selected as one of 28 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship Awardees (2022-2024). Jonathan has published 2 books and over 25 journal articles in his research areas of global media ethics, digital politics, and the anthropology of humanitarianism. In his recent disinformation studies research, Jonathan uses ethnography to understand the social identities, work arrangementsand moral justificationsof "paid trolls" and political public relations strategists. An engaged researcher, Jonathan has a long record of working closely with humanitarian and human rights organizations. His humanitarian research shaped policy debates about humanitarian accountabilityand localizing aidat the World Humanitarian Summit. Meanwhile his disinformation research influenced campaign finance policy in Philippine electionsand social media platforms' content policy about inter-Asian racist speech.

Interests: 

Jonathan has published 2 books and over 25 journal articles in his research areas of global media ethics, digital politics, and the anthropology of humanitarianism. His writings are centrally engaged with how marginalized peoples find agency, hope, conviviality, and political resistance in mediated / technological regimes that often position them into victimhood.

In his recent disinformation studies research, Jonathan uses ethnography to understand the social identities, work arrangements and moral justifications of "paid trolls" and political public relations strategists. An engaged researcher, Jonathan has a long record of working closely with humanitarian and human rights organizations. His humanitarian research shaped policy debates about humanitarian accountability and localizing aid at the World Humanitarian Summit. Meanwhile his disinformation research influenced campaign finance policy in Philippine elections and social media platforms' content policy about inter-Asian racist speech.

Jonathan has supervised PhD students working on diverse topics, including media in everyday life among Nigerian migrants in London, digital protest in class-divided Thailand, Belgian audiences of distant suffering, and working-class Chinese migrants' mediated political participation. Prior to joining UMass Amherst, Jonathan was Associate Professor in the University of Leicester and Assistant Professor in Hong Kong Baptist University. Jonathan was previously Editor-in-Chief of the 20+year old media studies journal Television & New Media.

Education: 

PhD, Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK
MSc, Politics and Communication, London School of Economics, UK
BA, Communication, Loyola Schools - Ateneo de Manila, Philippines

Courses Taught: 

Undergraduate: Intro to Media and Culture; Social Media in Everyday Life; Media Solidarities in the Age of Global Crisis
Graduate: Qualitative Methods; Tech Ethics and Media Justice

Publications: 

Books

Rovisco, M. & Ong, J.C. (2016) (eds.). Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space. London & NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

Ong, J.C. (2015). The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines. London & NY: Anthem Press.

Journal Special Issue Co-Editorships

Ong, J.C. & Donovan, J. (eds.). (forthcoming) Special Issue: "True Costs of Misinformation: Counting the Casualties of 'Fake News'". International Journal of Communication.

Grohmann, R. & Ong, J.C. (eds). (2022, forthcoming). Special Issue: "Disinformation-for-Hire and Clickfarming around the World". Social Media + Society.

Ong, J.C. & Negra, D (eds). (2020). Special Issue: "Intellectual and Institutional Turbulence in Media Studies: 20th Anniversary Issue of Television & New Media". Television & New Media 21: 6.

Ong, J.C. & Rovisco, M (eds). (2019). Special Issue: Refugee Socialities and the Media. Popular Communication 17: 2.

Journal Articles

Ong, J.C. & Cabbuag, S. (2022). "Pseudonymous Influencers and Horny Alts in the Philippines: Media Manipulation Beyond 'Fake News'". The Journal of Sociotechnical Critique.

Ong, J.C. (2021). "The Secondary Contagion of Stigmatization: Racism and Discrimination in the Pandemic Moment". Social Science Research Council Media Well. https://mediawell.ssrc.org/literature-reviews/the-contagion-of-stigmatization-racism-and-discrimination-in-the-infodemic-moment/versions/1-0/ 

Ong, J.C. (2020). "Limits and Luxuries of Slow Research in Times of Radical War: How Should We Represent Perpetrators?" Journal of Digital War 1(1): 1-6. Online First March 26, 2020.

Ong, J.C. & Cabanes, J.V. (2019). “When Disinformation Studies Meets Production Studies: Social Identities and Moral Justifications in the Political Trolling Industry.” International Journal of Communication 13: 5771-5790.

Ong, J.C. (2017). “Queer Cosmopolitanism in the Disaster Zone: ‘My Grindr Became the United Nations’”. International Communication Gazette 79(6-7): 656-673.

Book Chapters

Ong, J.C. (2022). "Political Trolls and the Global Digital Precariat". In Carah, N. (ed.). Conflict in My Outlook.

Ong, J.C. (2021). “Ethnography in Humanitarian Communication.” In Chouliaraki, L. & Vestergaard, A. (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication. London & New York: Routledge.

Ong, J.C. (2021). "The Political Trolling Industry in Duterte's Philippines: Everyday Work Arrangements of Disinformation and Extreme Speech". In Udupa, S., Gagliardone, I. & Hervik, P. [eds]. Digital Hate: Handbook on Extreme Speech. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Cabanes, J., Anderson, C.W., & Ong, J.C. (2019). “Fake News and Scandal”. In S. Waisbord & H. Tumber (eds.). Routledge Companion to Media and Scandal. London & New York: Routledge.

Ong, J.C. & Lin, T.Z. (2017). “Plague in the City: Digital Media as Shaming Apparatus Toward Mainland Chinese 'Locusts' in Hong Kong”. In Aiello, G., Oakley, K., & Tarantino, M. (eds.). Communication and the City. New York: Peter Lang.

Research Reports and Monographs

Ong, J.C., Tintiangko, J. & Fallorina, R. (2021). "Human Rights in Survival Mode: Developing New Narratives and Supporting Creative Workers in the Philippines". Shorenstein Center. Harvard Kennedy School. [Read here]

Ong, J.C. & R. Tapsell. (2020). “Mitigating Disinformation in Southeast Asian Elections: Lessons from Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.” NATO StratCom. [Read here].

Ong, J.C., & Cabanes, J.V.C. (2019). “Politics and Profit in the Fake News Factory: Four Work Models of Political Trolling in the Philippines.” NATO StratCom. [Read here]

Ong, J.C., Tapsell, R. & Curato, N. (2019). “Tracking Digital Disinformation in the 2019 Philippine Midterm Elections.” New Mandala. [Read here]

Ong, J.C. & Cabanes, J.V.C. (2018). “Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines.” Newton Tech4Dev Network. [Read here]

In the Press

Pro-Marcos, Duterte accounts weigh in on Ukraine invasion, praise Putin and Duterte. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. March 4, 2022. [Read here].

"Online Disinformation against AAPI Communities during the Covid-19 Pandemic." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. October 19, 2021. [Read here]

"Southeast Asia's disinformation crisis: Where the state is the biggest bad actor and regulation is a bad word". SSRC Items. January 12, 2021. [Read here]

"Memes as vigilantism: The multi-racial right and Anti-black racism. Meme War Weekly. September 16, 2020. [Read here]

"Coronavirus coverages shows how epidemics can spread racism." Open Democracy, January 30, 2020. (with Gideon Lasco). [Read here]

Grants: 

1. Co-Principal Investigator. "FACT-CHAMP: Monitoring Misinformation Targeting Asian-American and Pacific Islander Communities". National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator Grant, September 2021 to August 2022. (US$129,000).

2. Principal Investigator. "Social Media Influencers in Contexts of Medical Populism". Media Ecosystems Group / Gates Foundation. September 2021 to January 2022. (US$30,000).

3. Principal Investigator of Human Rights and the Media in the Philippines Project. The Asia Foundation, Philippines, January 2020 to October 2021. (US$20,000).

4. Co-Investigator of Digital Disinformation in Southeast Asian Elections (SEARBO). Australian National University, 2020-2021. (US$20,000).

5. Principal Investigator of Global Disinformation Architectures Workshop Grant. University of Massachusetts, 2019 (US$1500).

6. Continuing Award for British Academy Visiting Senior Fellowship. Global Disinformation Architectures project in the Department of Journalism, City University London, February to December 2019 (US$14,000).

7. Co-Investigator. Digital Disinformation Tracker Project: Reality Check (SEARBO). In partnership with CNN Philippines and with funding from Australian National University, 2019 (US$22,000).

8. Co-Principal Investigator of Data and Platform Matters Seminar Series, funded by UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2018 – 2019 (US$2,500).

9. British Academy Visiting Senior Fellowship. Global Disinformation Architectures project in the Department of Journalism, City University London, 2018 (US$26,000).

10. Co-Principal Investigator of Mediating Care and Justice Seminar Series, funded by UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2017 - 2018 (US$2,000).

11. Principal Investigator of Newton Tech4Dev Network, funded by British Council Newton Fund, 2016 - 2018 (US$400,000 /Leicester split: US$200,000) [Read more]

12. Principal Investigator of Listening Technologies: Compassion Protocols of Humanitarian Agencies, funded by the University of Leicester, 2015 - 2016 (US$6,600).

13. Lead Researcher / Consultant for Common Services Accountability Project by Plan International, World Vision & IOM, funded by DFID. 2015 - 2016 (US$26,000).

14. Co-Investigator of Humanitarian Technologies Project, funded by ESRC Urgency Invite Grant, 2014 - 2016 (US$207,000; Leicester split: US$32,000) [Read more] .

15. Co-Investigator of Hong Kong Public Policy Grant on Surveillance Technologies, 2012 (US$40,000).

16. Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Fully funded PhD under Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2007 - 2011.

Current Projects: 

Jonathan is Co-Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator grant investigating racially targeted misinformation against Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. This project supports the research of two Ph.D. students at UMass Amherst and engages AAPI community groups as active collaborators.

Jonathan is engaged in various election observatory projects reporting on misinformation and influencer marketing trends for the 2022 Philippines elections.

Jonathan recently started new research on "networked conspirituality", which involves collaborating with an astrologer to produce resources that call out misinformation and conspiracy theory within astrology, tarot, and New Age online communities.

Jonathan is also the founder and convenor of the British Council-funded Newton Tech4Dev Network www.newtontechfordev.com), which is a global network of academics, humanitarians, and technology experts, studying emergent media in low- and middle-income countries.

Roles: