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Apryl Williams is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication & Media and the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan. She is also a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow in Trustworthy AI at the Mozilla Foundation, as well as an affiliated researcher at NYU's Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies. As a multidisciplinary scholar, Williams studies experiences of gender and race at the intersection of digital spaces and algorithmic technocultures.

In her forthcoming book, Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating, Apryl Williams presents a socio-technical exploration of dating platforms' algorithms, their lack of transparency, the legal and ethical discourse in these companies' community guidelines, and accounts from individual users in order to argue that sexual racism is a central feature of today's online dating culture. She discusses this reality in the context of facial recognition and sorting software as well as user experiences, drawing parallels to the long history of eugenics and banned interracial partnerships. Ultimately, Williams calls for, both a reconceptualization of the technology and policies that govern dating agencies, and also a reexamination of sociocultural beliefs about attraction, beauty, and desirability.

Williams' previous work has been published in leading interdisciplinary journals including Social Media + Society, Information, Communication & Society, the International Journal of Communication, and the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. Her research has also been covered in popular press outlets including Time Magazine, Mic.com, Newsweek, Slate, BuzzfeedNews, NPR’s On the Media, and The Guardian.


Community

TIME

When Love and the Algorithm Don’t Mix

Apryl Williams describes dating app algorithms as a reinforcer of longstanding racial biases that privilege whiteness and deprioritize matching women of color.

Feb 14, 2024
Mic

Are your dating preferences racist?

Apryl Williams shares the ways in which race underlies much of online life.

Jul 1, 2021
Harvard Law Today

Deconstructing the ‘Karen’ meme

Apryl Williams puts memes in historical, cultural context

Feb 3, 2021
Social Media + Society

Black Memes Matter: #LivingWhileBlack With Becky and Karen

Apryl Williams publishes in Social Media + Society

Dec 18, 2020
Museum of the Moving Image

Surveillance of Black Lives

Apryl Williams, Mutale Nkonde, and Allissa V. Richardson speak at event

Jul 16, 2020
BKC Medium Collection

Ken and Karen are White Supremacists

Apryl Williams explains that although memes are humorous, Karens and Kens of the world express a dangerous, audacious kind of White supremacy

Jul 1, 2020
TIME

How the 'Karen Meme' Confronts the Violent History of White Womanhood

Apryl Williams discusses the historical context, significance of the ‘Karen Meme’

Jun 25, 2020
Detroit Today

White People: Learn How To Become Better Allies

Apryl Williams discusses how white allies can express solidarity without centering the conversations on themselves.

Jun 11, 2020
Fatherly

What Is the Male Version of a Karen?

Apryl Williams on how to make sense of memes as an act of resistance, and what it means to be a Ken

Jun 9, 2020
On the Media

Boiling Point

Apryl Williams examines the Karen meme and what it tells us about criticism of privilege in the pandemic and Jessie Daniels discusses the history of white women in racial dynamics…

May 29, 2020
The Boston Globe

Facebook’s new dating service is flopping.

BKC fellow Apryl Williams sheds light on online dating and context collapse

Nov 8, 2019

Events

Event
Feb 2, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

White Surveillance and Black Digital Publics

Video & Podcast: A Conversation with Dr. Apryl A. Williams and Dr. Allissa V. Richardson

Video & Podcast: Dr. Apryl A. Williams and Dr. Allissa V. Richardson will address the long-standing history of White vigilante-style surveillance of Black people in public spaces

Apr 29, 2020 @ 2:00 PM

[Virtual] Racial Health Disparities and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Video: Featuring Dr. Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde and Dr. Gabe Miller

Video: The most important factors behind racial health disparities, and how they are influencing health and mortality outcomes in the age of COVID-19.