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[liberationtech] JOB: Media Manipulation lead at Data & Society

danah boyd danah-tech at
Mon Mar 27 09:44:02 PDT 2017

Can y’all help me find the right candidate for this job at Data & Society? This position does not require a PhD, but it does require skills at people wrangling and project management, as well as an eye for identifying the important research puzzles. Any suggestions would be *greatly* appreciated!  And feel free to forward along as you see fit.



JOB: Media Manipulation Research Project Lead (Apply by April 3) <>

Data & Society Research Institute is seeking a dynamic and expert individual to manage our research and intervention efforts on a project focused on the role of technology in the manipulation of institutions and information intermediaries. This position is based out of our New York City office, and starts immediately.

Manipulation Project: Understanding How Systems are Gamed

While technologies are often created with the best of intentions, they are often used in ways that dismay their creators. As data-driven and social technologies – and the companies that produce them – become more powerful, so do the individuals and groups attempting to undermine or manipulate tech to advance other agendas. From cybersecurity to spam and search engine optimization to the manipulation of mainstream media, we must confront the weaknesses and fault lines that appear in a technology and data-driven society.

At Data & Society, the Manipulation Project seeks to understand the mechanisms by which adversarial attacks on institutions and information intermediaries wreak havoc on countless systems, undermine trust in society, and destroy key mechanisms of social infrastructure– and the subsequent socio-technical implications. Conversations about topics like “fake news” or AI-powered bots fail to account for how and why systems can easily be gamed. This project aims to cut through the hype around these issues, and understand vulnerabilities in socio-technical systems that go beyond security and privacy. How can systems be manipulated? And what are the implications of that kind of manipulation?

About the Manipulation Project Lead

You know how to manage a team of researchers working on multiple trajectories and implement project management practices that lead to successful outcomes. You enjoy thinking strategically about what is needed for research to be useful, relevant, and accessible, and are adept at deploying resources effectively to achieve these ends. You are analytical and skilled at spotting connections across bodies of research, as well as understanding the real-world implications and possibilities emerging from research findings. You are comfortable with research from a variety of traditions including qualitative, field research, ethnographic and survey methods.

You have a contrarian mindset and know how to question the assumptions and frameworks presented to you. You believe in the importance of evidence and data, but also have an appreciation for why people might be incentivized to manipulate data-driven systems or use technical tools to achieve ideological, economic, or personal goals. The idea of better understanding and broadly communicating conflicting perspectives on controversial topics greatly appeals to you, and you have experience using research in ways that may take discussants into uncomfortable socio-political terrain. You believe that understanding all sides of a seemingly one-sided situation is crucial for devising solutions. You have no problem challenging sacred cows and enjoy shifting frames to help drive a conversation in more productive directions.

You are excited about the possibility of helping bring knowledge to bear in high-stakes conversations, and coordinating and managing D&S’s research on these topics.

Responsibilities will include:

Daily management of a team of 4-5 researchers, including oversight of workplans, project schedule, deliverables, and project budget.
Develop overall research project strategy in collaboration with Data & Society leadership
Coordinate a network of ~20 scholars, journalists, and researchers to strategically share insights, data, and frames.
Manage team resources proactively, identifying new staffing needs as necessary.
Develop and own the process of providing regular written and verbal briefings to key stakeholders in civil society, media, and industry.
Build and maintain a map of academic and advocacy work happening within and beyond the D&S network on these issues, and track the arguments and discussions taking place in various venues.
Work closely with our research, programs, and communications teams to ensure that our research is being strengthened through engagement with stakeholders, and disseminated in appropriate formats to key decision-makers.
Develop a trusting relationship with scholars, knowing when to shine a spotlight on them and their work and when to step in to help with translation.
Build and maintain relationships with key stakeholder groups in this space.
Balance between advancing a longer-term strategy and responding to unforeseen but highly relevant events.

A passion for supporting research and researchers to work towards advancing knowledge collectively.
Extensive project management experience in fast-paced knowledge production environments.
Deep familiarity with debates related to those currently emerging under frames like “fake news” and media manipulation.
Experience connecting research findings to advocacy and/or policy recommendations (including using research to challenge approaches being taken).
Comfort and experience working between business/tech industry actors, government, civil society, and research.
A high level of comfort with digital security tools (e.g., PGP, Tor, Signal, etc.).
Excellent writing and editing skills; public speaking skills a plus.
Willingness to play a visible leadership role in representing Data & Society’s work and broader research network to other audiences.
We expect that the right candidate for this position is mid-career and has spent a 5-7 years in a technology company, media institution, or research institute/think tank, and has managed investigative or research teams in the past.

Practical considerations:

This is not a remote position. You must be able to work full time from Data & Society’s offices in the Flatiron District.
You will be offered a generous benefits package including health insurance, vacation time, and paid holidays.
You must be eligible to work in the United States. We are unable to sponsor visas.
To apply, please submit the following to jobs at <mailto:jobs at> by MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2017:

A cover letter explaining your interest in this role, how you learned about this opportunity, how you approach project management of research efforts, and how you see the issue of manipulation unfolding at the intersection of technology and society today.
(Please also include the names, affiliations, and email addresses of two references)
Your resume/CV
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please feel free to contact us at jobs at <mailto:jobs at> should you have any questions about the position. Questions about the opportunity or process will not reflect negatively on your application.

About Data & Society Research Institute

Data & Society focuses on the social and cultural issues arising from data­centric technological development. We seek to inform and develop frames for discussion of these complex issues both through our own research and through supporting the expansion of a nascent field of actors concerned about these topics. We want to be a resource, a catalyst, and a convener as new sectors recognize the complexity of the issues and the need for trade­offs when they increase their reliance on data as a tool for management and decision-making.

We see the field as comprised of researchers, journalists, policymakers, technologists, industry leaders and workers, funders, advocates, and civil society actors. We are committed to helping this field engage substantively, and with an evidence base, in debates over implications arising from the increasing reliance on data at scale to automated decision-making across a range of sectors.

The work and wellbeing of Data & Society is strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, and provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants without regard to race, age, creed, color, culture, experience, national origin, religion or ancestry, genetic information, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability, pregnancy, and more. We welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities. In addition to federal law requirements, Data & Society complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment.

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