2021 Comm Annual Lecture featuring Safiya U. Noble, Ph.D.

Event date/time: 
Thursday, April 1, 2021 - 12:00pm

In her recent best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble challenges the idea that “Big Tech” offers an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Her work argues that the combination of private interests, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of internet companies, leads to a limited understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in everyday digital engagements.

Data discrimination is a real social problem, and in this talk, Noble offers a powerful set of data points, examples, and provocations. She asserts we are at the beginning of creating new paradigms of justice in the technology sector and that information institutions and professionals are both at the forefront of a necessary reckoning with the past and the vanguard for the future. Dr. Noble’s talk suggests both practical and imaginative ways for information professionals like librarians, museum curators, and knowledge managers to take seriously the role they can play in synthesizing complex social crises into their work and their ability to positively employ social change. 



Safiya U. Noble, Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies and the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award. Her academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology. Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble is the author of the best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press). She recently co-founded the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2). She also holds appointments in African American Studies and Gender Studies. She is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford and has been appointed as a Commissioner on the Oxford Commission on AI & Good Governance (OxCAIGG). She is a board member of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, serving those vulnerable to online harassment. She is regularly quoted for her expertise on issues of algorithmic discrimination and technology bias by national and international press including The Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, USA Today, Wired, Time, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The New York Times, and Virginia Public Radio, and a host of local news and podcasts, including Science Friction, and Science Friday to name a few. Recently, she was named in the “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2019” by Government Technology magazine. Her work intersects with work done in the UMass Department of Communication on media, race and discrimination; digital media and social justice, and engaged scholarship in communication.


Registration is required.

United States
Event Date: 
Thursday, April 1, 2021 - 12:00pm