Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Jun 25, 2019

Safiya Noble: The Future of Class, Culture, Gender and Race on Digital Media Platforms (Ep. 191)


Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble (@safiyanoble) is an Associate Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Information Studies and African American Studies, and a visiting faculty member to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in Department of Media and Cinema Studies and the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), which has been widely-reviewed in journals and periodicals including the Los Angeles Review of Books, featured in the New York Public Library 2018 Best Books for Adults (non-fiction), and recognized by Bustle magazine as one of 10 Books about Race to Read Instead of Asking a Person of Color to Explain Things to You.

Safiya is 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. 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 InternationalUSA TodayWired, Time, Full Frontal with Samantha BeeThe 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. 

Dr. Noble is the co-editor of two edited volumes: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online and Emotions, Technology & Design. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of the Commentary & Criticism section of the Journal of Feminist Media Studies. She is a member of several academic journal and advisory boards, including Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno where she was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2018. 



Safiya U. Noble

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya U. Noble (NYU Press: 2019)

Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media by Sarah T. Roberts (Yale University Press: 2019)


News Roundup


FTC is investigating YouTube over children’s privacy

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating YouTube over children’s privacy concerns, according to the Washington Post. The Alphabet subsidiary faces steep fines if it’s found to have violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits tracking and targeting children under 13. The FTC and YouTube both declined to comment.


Lawmakers divided over election security

The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers are divided over election security, with some, including Mitch McConnell, who think additional legislation is unnecessary to deal with the challenges posed by technology. Other Republicans, like Lindsay Graham think there’s more we can do.


Facebook plans cryptocurrency, Maxine Waters resists

We reported last week that Facebook announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. But House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters is pushing back. Waters asked Facebook to place a moratorium on the release of its cryptocurrency until after Congress has had a chance to review it. Virginia Senator Mark Warner agreed. Both lawmakers said the company’s troubled past is a warning sign. Waters has scheduled a hearing for July 17.


DHS moving global biometric data to Amazon Cloud

The Department of Homeland Security stated in request for information it released last week that it would be moving the data of hundreds of millions of people around the globe to Amazon Web Services. The DHS is moving the data to a Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) System, hosted by AWS, which will upgrade the agency’s ability to link biometric and biographical data to DNA. The system is designed to quickly identify anyone who’s in the database such as suspected criminals, immigration violators, terrorists and, frankly, you, if you’re in the database.


Google’s board rejects shareholder proposals to fight sexual harassment and boost diversity

The Guardian reports that Google parent Alphabet’s board of directors voted down thirteen shareholder proposals that would have ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims by contract workers, addressed ethical concerns stemming from AI and China, and several other social concerns. The board voted against the proposals despite a protest happening outside the company’s headquarters during the vote.


Apple CEO Tim Cook calls out big tech

Apple CEO Tim Cook called out big tech at a Stanford Commencement speech last week. He said tech companies need to accept responsibility for the chaos they create and that “Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation – the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility … We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”


Members call on tech companies to address law firm diversity concerns

In a letter penned by Missouri Representative Emanuel Cleaver, members of the House of Representatives are calling on tech companies to diversify the ranks of outside counsel the companies use. Currently, tech companies retain large law firms notorious for their dismal diversity records and segregating lawyers of color into contractor roles. Congressman Cleaver, along with Representatives Robin Kelly, G.K. Butterfield, and Barbara Lee sent the letter to Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Intel, HP, Cisco and Facebook.


Fairfax County gets first state funding for autonomous vehicles

Fairfax County Virginia and Dominion Energy landed a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation for an autonomous electric shuttle in Merrifield. The pilot will be part of a larger potential effort to build a largescale autonomous transportation system in Virginia. This first pilot will connect the Dunn Loring MetroRail Station with the Mosaic district. Under the deal, Dominion will purchase or lease the vehicle and Fairfax County will handle operations.




Tues., 6/25

Senate Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet

Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms


Hart 216


House Committee on Homeland Security: Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism

Artificial Intelligence and Counterterrorism: Possibilities and Limitations


Cannon 310


House Committee on Small Business: Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure

Broadband Mapping: Small Carrier Perspectives on a Path Forward


Rayburn 2360


House Energy & Commerce Committee: Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Stopping Bad Robocalls Act


Rayburn 2123


House Committee on Financial Services

Task Force on Financial Technology: Overseeing the Fintech Revolution: Domestic and International Perspectives on Fintech Regulation


Rayburn 2128


House Committee on Homeland Security: Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation                                                  Cybersecurity Challenges for State and Local Governments: Assessing How the Federal Government Can Help


Cannon 310


House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

Continuing Challenges to the Voting Rights Act Since Shelby County v. Holder


Rayburn 2141


House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight

Election Security: Voting Technology Vulnerabilities


Rayburn 2318




Transformative Technology of DC

How the Future of Work and STEM are impacting social wellbeing, digital transformation and mindset growth through tech

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

District Offices

10 G Street Northeast


GEICO Data Science

Tech Talk & Open House

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT

5260 Western Avenue

Bethesda, MD 20815


Wed., 6/26


House Committee on Homeland Security

Examining Social Media Companies' Efforts to Counter Online Terror Content and Misinformation


Cannon 310


House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Artificial Intelligence: Societal and Ethical Implications


Rayburn 2318


House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

NASA’s Aeronautics Mission: Enabling the Transformation of Aviation


Rayburn 2318


Wine Wednesday

Founding Farmers

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT

Founding Farmers, Reston

1904 Reston Metro Plaza


Thurs., 6/27


Federal Trade Commission



FTC Constitution Center

400 7th ST., SW


Ford Motor Company Fund

 HERImpact Entrepreneurship Summit


Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business
3700 O St NW


General Assembly

Inside the Minds of Brilliant Designers


General Assembly, 509 7th Street NW, 3rd Floor 



Fri., 6/28


Federal Communications Commission

Workshop on Promoting Multilingual Alerting




Tues., 7/2


Universal Service Administrative Company

Lifeline Program Consumer Support Training for caseworkers, service agents, and support professionals


Universal Service Administrative Company

700 12th St., NW