Data Science ARES: Margaret Roberts

Join us at the Data Science Applied Research and Education Seminar (ARES) with:

Dr. Margaret E. Roberts
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute
University of California, San Diego

Free Event | Registration Required

Talk Title: Resilience to Online Censorship


To what extent are Internet users resilient to online censorship? When does censorship influence consumption of information and when does it create backlash? Drawing on data reflecting censorship evasion of the Great Firewall of China, I examine the extent to which individuals affected by censorship seek out ways to route around it.  Using censorship events of Wikipedia and Instagram and crisis events like the outbreak of COVID, I examine how changes in the censorship and political environment influence censorship evasion.  I find that crisis, as well as censorship of very popular and addictive websites, can create incentives for censorship evasion that in turn provides a gateway to long censored and sensitive political information.  But, in the absence of a strong incentive to jump the wall, censorship events cut off access not only to political information, but also to opportunities for exploration and learning.

Based on joint work with Jennifer Pan, Will Hobbs, Keng-Chi Chang, and Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld.

Dr. Roberts is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at the University of California, San Diego. She is also part of the Omni-Methods Group. Her research interests lie in the intersection of political methodology and the politics of information, with a specific focus on methods of automated content analysis and the politics of censorship and propaganda in China.

Roberts received a PhD from Harvard in Government (2014), a MS from Stanford in Statistics (2009), and BA from Stanford in International Relations and Economics (2009). Much of her research uses social media, online experiments, and large collections of texts to understand the influence of censorship and propaganda on access to information and beliefs about politics.

Her book, Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall, published by Princeton University Press in 2018, was listed as one of the Foreign Affairs Best Books of 2018, was honoured with the Goldsmith Book Award, and has been awarded the Best Book Award in the Human Rights Section and Information Technology and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. She also holds a Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair at UCSD.

The event is finished.

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Dec 07 2020
  • Time: 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


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