Announcement of 2017 Keynotes

We are very pleased to announce two distinguished Keynotes for the 8th International Conference on Social Media & Society (July 28-30, 2017, Toronto, Canada):

  • Lee Rainie – Director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, USA
  • Ronald Deibert – Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada.
Lee Rainie is the Director of Internet, Science, and Technology research at the Pew Research Center, a non-profit, non–partisan “fact tank” that studies the social impact of the internet.

His Project was described by the American Sociological Association as the “most authoritative source of reliable data on the use and impact of the internet and mobile connectivity” and the ASA awarded him and the Internet Project its award for “excellence in the reporting on social issues award” in 2014.

The Project has issued more than 600 reports based on its surveys that examine people’s online activities and the internet’s role in their lives. The Pew Research Center also has launched a sustained study of the intersection of science and society that Lee oversees. All of its reports and datasets are available online for free at:

Lee is a co-author of – Networked: The new social operating system with sociologist Barry Wellman about the social impact of the internet and cell phones. He is also co-author of five books about the future of the internet that are based on Project surveys about the subject.

Prior to launching the Pew Internet Project, Lee was managing editor of U.S. News & World Report.

Title: The Reckoning For Social Media: The Challenging World of “Fake News” and “Truthiness”

Abstract: Lee Rainie, director of internet, science, and technology research at the Pew Research Center, will discuss new research about how citizens are trying to navigate the challenging world of “fake news” and “truthiness” on social media. He will look at how people are trying to adjust to the turmoil over the impact of social media on political deliberation and what this means about the concepts of “expertise” and “trust.”

Ron Deibert, (OOnt, PhD, University of British Columbia) is Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development laboratory working at the intersection of the digital technologies, global security, and human rights. He was a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative (2003-2014) and Information Warfare Monitor (2003-2012) projects. Deibert was one of the founders and (former) VP of global policy and outreach for Psiphon, one of the world’s leading digital censorship circumvention services. 

Title: War in the World Brain

Abstract: In 1937, H.G. Wells wrote an essay entitled the “World Brain,” in which he forecast a permanent encyclopedia accessible to all citizens of the earth simultaneously.  Should such a permanent encyclopedia every come to fruition, Wells predicted, it would dissolve all human conflict into unity.  Clearly, Wells’ assumptions were misguided.  While we have indeed created the basis for a world encyclopedia accessible by most everyone on Earth, the foundation for it is under assault.  Governments now routinely censor access to Internet resources using sophisticated censorship and deep-packet inspection systems. A vast architecture of planetary-wide surveillance has been constructed, borne out of the complementary interests of big business and Big Brother. Civil society organizations face an epidemic of targeted digital attacks from their adversaries. Heavily financed and well resourced resourced state-backed “influence operations” poison the well of the public sphere with propaganda. Drawing from the research of the Citizen Lab (, I outline why and how digital technologies are contributing to and reinforcing human conflict and division, and then suggest some strategies to mitigate these trends.