Skip to the main content

Ethan Zuckerman is associate professor of public policy, information and communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and director of the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the use of new media technologies by activists and alternative business and governance models for the internet. He is the author of Mistrust: How Losing Trust in Institutions Provides Tools to Transform Them (2021) and Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (2013). With Rebecca MacKinnon, Zuckerman co-founded the international blogging community Global Voices. It showcases news and opinions from citizen media in more than 150 nations and 30 languages, publishing editions in 20 languages. Previously, Zuckerman directed the Center for Civic Media at MIT and taught at the MIT Media Lab. In 2000, Zuckerman founded Geekcorps, a technology volunteer organization that sends IT specialists to work on projects in developing nations, with a focus on West Africa. Previously, he helped found Tripod.com, one of the web's first "personal publishing" sites. He and his family live in Berkshire County in western Massachusetts.


Projects & Tools

Media Cloud

Media Cloud is an open source, open data platform that allows researchers to answer complex quantitative and qualitative questions about the content of online media.

Global Voices

Global Voices Online is an online citizen media community dedicated to amplifying independent online voices from outside North America and Europe.

Past

Berkman Online Lecture and Discussion (BOLD) Series

We offer computer-mediated seminars through our interactive Berkman Online Lecture and Discussion (BOLD) series. Topics have included intellectual property and privacy on the…

Past

Circumvention

The Berkman Center's Circumvention project is engaged in designing and conducting research aimed at gaining a broad understanding of the usage of circumvention tools.

DDoS research project

The DDoS research project seeks to understand the ways in which DDoS attacks are becoming a popular technique for limiting access to independent media and human rights sites…

Global Attention Profiles

GAP - the Global Attention Profiles project - tracks the attention that selected news media outlets pay to different nations of the world. A set of automated programs performs…

Past

Media Re:public

Media Re:public is a research project that examines the current and potential impact of participatory news media.


Publications

Publication
Aug 16, 2017

Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election.

Publication
Aug 18, 2011

International Bloggers and Internet Control

Infringements on Internet freedom, particularly through Internet filtering and surveillance, have inspired activists and technologists to develop technological counter-measures,…

Publication
Aug 18, 2011

The Evolving Landscape of Internet Control

A Summary of Our Recent Research and Recommendations

Over the past two years, we have undertaken several studies at the Berkman Center designed to better understand the control of the Internet in less open societies. In this paper,…

Publication
Aug 18, 2011

International Bloggers and Internet Control: Full Survey Results

This document includes the full survey results for the Berkman Center’s International Bloggers and Internet Control survey.

Publication
Aug 18, 2011

2011 Circumvention Tool Evaluation

Given the rising awareness of the potential of the Internet as a political space and increasing government control over the space, it is easy to understand the widespread interest…

Publication
Aug 1, 2011

Online Security in the Middle East and North Africa

A Survey of Perceptions, Knowledge, and Practice

The recent surge in digital activism that has helped to shape the Arab spring has been met with stiff resistance by governments in the region intent on reducing the impact of…

Publication
Dec 20, 2010

2010 Report on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

This paper evaluates the impact of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on independent media and human rights sites in nine countries, as well as the broader impact of…

Publication
Oct 14, 2010

2010 Circumvention Tool Usage Report

This paper evaluates the usage of blocking-resistant circumvention tools, simple web proxies, and VPN services and finds that overall usage of circumvention tools is still very…

Publication
Mar 5, 2009

2007 Circumvention Landscape Report: Methods, Uses, and Tools

A large variety of different projects have developed tools that can be used to circumvent Internet filtering, allowing people in filtered countries access to otherwise filtered…

Dec 18, 2008

Media Re:public: News and Information as Digital Media Come of Age

Overview paper, issues, case studies

A series of papers exploring the potential and the challenges of the emerging networked digital media environment.

Jul 31, 2003

Global Attention Profiles - a working paper

First steps towards a quantitative approach to the study of media attention

Global Attention Profiles – a working paper: First steps towards a quantitative approach to the study of media attention


News

Jun 13, 2019

The future of the decentralized web

Tim Berners-Lee's effort to "make a second correction in the arc of the Internet"

Mar 28, 2012

RB 195: Can 100 Million Viewers Save a Child?

The #Kony2012 video, and accompanying campaign and meme, has done a lot to raise awareness. Of WHAT exactly, it's hard to tell.

News
Jun 22, 2011

MIT bound!

Ethan Zuckerman is becoming director of the Center for Civic Media

Huge congratulations to our friend and colleague Ethan Zuckerman on his new gig at the MIT Media Lab! Ethan writes, "So, I got a new job. A really cool new job."

News
May 6, 2011

Relaunch: Media Cloud

The Berkman Center is pleased to announce that the Media Cloud Dashboard is open for public use. We invite you to experiment with the tool, which generates weekly word clouds of…

News
Mar 30, 2011

Using Media Cloud to measure the change in media cycles

From Ethan Zuckerman's blog: "...Hal Roberts, David Larochelle, Zoe Fraade-Blanar...have been revamping the Media Cloud tool this past year, trying to make it more powerful for…

Mar 16, 2011

Harnessing technology for social good

[updated April 11]

Last month the Ford Foundation hosted the Wired for Change conference, and a pack of Berkman Center folks, friends, and family were in New York for the event. Ford has posted full…

Feb 15, 2011

Questions for Secretary Clinton concerning "Internet freedom"

Faculty associate Matthew Hindman provoked an energetic email exchange among members of the extended Berkman Center community today, in anticipation of Secretary Clinton's …

News
Dec 20, 2010

Report: "Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites"

The Berkman Center is pleased to share a new report from the DDoS research project: "Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites," in…

Apr 21, 2010

(Futures) news, social science, Internet filtering (more)

Seven different pieces of writing and research from the Berkman Center community have appeared over the last seven days, from Ethan Zuckerman's essay in the latest issue of…

Mar 11, 2009

Berkman Center’s ‘Media Cloud’ To Offer Insights on Media Trends, the Blogosphere and News Industry Dynamics

Thomson Reuters Contributes Calais Web Service to New Research Tool from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Thomson Reuters has teamed with Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society to support the new ‘Media Cloud’ open research tool. Debuting in Q2, 2009, Media Cloud…

News
Mar 5, 2009

Report release: 2007 Circumvention Landscape Report: Methods, Uses, and Tools

The Berkman Center is pleased to make available its report on techniques and tools for circumventing Internet filtering...

Jul 21, 2008

The world of Global Voices, rising

Global Voices Online has announced an Executive Director! In August, Ivan Sigal will take the helm, joining Managing Director Georgia Popplewell and GVO's international team and…

May 6, 2008

Homophily, serendipity, xenophilia

getting smart about birds of a feather

As ROFLCon descended on Cambridge, Fellow Ethan Zuckerman was essaying an argument for why homophily, serendipity, and xenophilia are "useful concepts" for thinking through media…

Apr 25, 2008

Ethan Zuckerman: the history of digital community, in less than 7 minutes

Fasten your time machine seatbelt. As part of the Berkman Center’s ongoing tenth anniversary celebration, Berkman@10, we’re retrieving some classics from our multimedia archive,…

Apr 3, 2008

Tunisian video activists (and Ethan Zuckerman) on BoingBoing tv

From Berkman Fellow Ethan Zuckerman...Xeni wanted to feature some of the topics I talked about in my Cute Cats talk, but realized that it’s hard to summarize the entire talk in a…

Mar 26, 2008

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008 slated for June 27-28

From Global Voices' announcement -- currently translated by the GV community into eight languages! Global Voices and Global Voices Advocacy are pleased to announce the Global…


Community

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

Forum Logic: Topical, with a side of toxicity

Looking back at topic-based social networks may offer one way forward for social media

May 11, 2021
All Tech Is Human

Improving Social Media

Oumou Ly and Ethan Zuckerman featured in a publication from All Tech Is Human on Improving Social Media.

Feb 22, 2021
NiemanReports

How Participatory Media Promote Coverage of Social Movements

An excerpt of Ethan Zuckerman’s book, “Mistrust”

Jan 21, 2021
The Atlantic

The Capitol Rioters Are Giving Insurrection a Bad Name

Ethan Zuckerman says insurrectionism can be a civically responsible form of social change

Jan 19, 2021
CNN

The real lesson of Trump's social media silencing

Ethan Zuckerman calls for a new vision of social media

Jan 12, 2021
The Atlantic

Why All News Sounds the Same

Ethan Zuckerman uses Media Cloud to explain the narrowing media agenda

Aug 7, 2020
Gizmodo

What Did People Use Before Google to Search the Web?

Ethan Zuckerman discusses web search before Google with Gizmodo

Jul 20, 2020
MIT Technology Review

Why filming police violence has done nothing to stop it

Ethan Zuckerman says evidentiary images on their own don’t bring about change. What’s missing is power.

Jun 3, 2020
Los Angeles Review of Books

Social Network Construction Kit

Zuckerman discusses the history of public broadcasting, and potential alternative models for the future.

May 15, 2020
NBC News

Coronavirus misinformation makes neutrality a distant memory for tech companies

Facing the prospect that hoaxes or misinformation could worsen a global pandemic, tech platforms are taking control of the information ecosystem like never before.

Mar 24, 2020
The Knight First Amendment Institute

Digital Public Infrastructure… and a few words in defense of optimism

Ethan Zuckerman argues the case for Digital Public Infrastructure

Jan 17, 2020
Vox

Tech companies tried to help us spend less time on our phones. It didn’t work.

Ethan Zuckerman adds to the discussion about whether concerns about “time well spent” are overblown.

Jan 9, 2020
Columbia Journalism Review

Building a More Honest Internet

Ethan Zuckerman imagines a different kind of Internet—one propelled by public concerns instead of the interests of large corporations.

Dec 1, 2019
International Journal of Communication

Whose deaths matter? New research on Black Lives Matter and media attention

A Quantitative Analysis of Media Attention to Deaths of Black Americans in Police Confrontations

Oct 2, 2019
Medium

Training the next generation of ethical techies

Tech, policy, and ethics training should begin in undergraduate studies, Zuckerman says

Aug 14, 2019
MIT ILP

Exploring the good – and very bad – political impacts of social media

Ethan Zuckerman discusses the opportunities and consequences of participatory media.

Aug 7, 2019
Medium

Thinking in Solid

Ethan Zuckerman envisions a review service built in Solid

Jul 29, 2019
Journal of Design and Science

QAnon and the Emergence of the Unreal

Ethan Zuckerman delves into how the conspiracist community surrounding QAnon represents a hazardous new form of participatory civics and digital storytelling

Jul 15, 2019
Colombia Journalism Review

French media is polarizing. But not in the way we expected.

Does social media affect democracy the same way across the world, or do social platforms have different effects in different nations?

May 13, 2019
The Guardian

Facebook teams with rightwing Daily Caller in factchecking program

Site co-founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson has promoted misinformation and is known for pro-Trump content

Apr 17, 2019
MIT Industrial Liaison Program

Exploring the good – and very bad – political impacts of social media

Ethan Zuckerman discusses the opportunities and consequences of participatory media.

Apr 3, 2019
Colombia Journalism Review

What we learned from analyzing thousands of stories on the Christchurch shooting

An analysis of over 6,000 articles about the recent tragedy reveals useful guidelines for journalists on reporting extreme content

Mar 26, 2019

Courses

Digital Democracy - Fall 2003

Over the past 15 years, digital information and communication networks have spread rapidly across the globe, bringing with them hopes for, and claims of, fundamental change in the…


Events

Event
Oct 19, 2021 @ 1:00 PM

Private Social Media Data in the Public Interest: What’s Next?

This October 19 panel will explore dilemmas, debates, and paths forward for public interest research access to social media data.

Event
May 20, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Mistrust: How to revitalize civics at a moment of low public trust in institutions

Video & Podcast: A book talk with Ethan Zuckerman and Martha Minow

Video & Podcast: Author and digital communities scholar Ethan Zuckerman, in conversation with Martha Minow, discusses his new book on mistrust in American and global institutions…

Jun 25, 2013 @ 6:00 PM

REWIRE: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

A book launch with the author, Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media

A rousing call to action for those who would be citizens of the world—online and off.

Feb 7, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication

Book event and discussion

A Panel Discussion about Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication

Jan 24, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

Too Big to Know

David Weinberger, Berkman Center and Harvard Law School Library Lab

David Weinberger discusses his new book, "Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is…

Sep 12, 2011 @ 5:00 PM

News and Entertainment in the Digital Age: A Vast Wasteland Revisited

In 1961, Newt Minow – then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – delivered a landmark speech to the National Association of Broadcasters on “Television and the…

Jul 11, 2011 @ 5:00 PM

Cultivating New voices, Approaches, and Audiences for national -- and international -- reporting

in an era of global interconnectedness and shrinking news budgets

The Berkman Center will host a conversation about the challenges of reporting international stories to US and Global audiences. In an age of shrinking news budgets, American…

Event
Jan 25, 2011 @ 12:30 PM

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites

Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, and Jillian C. York

Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, and Jillian C. York will discuss the recently released Berkman Center report on "Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and…

Apr 30, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

ROFLCon II

Back in April 2008, there was ROFLCon -- the first internet culture conference devoted to discussing what makes memes work, why they work, and where it's all going. ROFLCon II…

Event
Nov 23, 2009 @ 11:45 AM

CRCS Lunch Seminar: Media Cloud and Quantitative News Media Analysis

Hal Roberts and Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Center

Ethan and Hal will present their prototype system to retrieve, tag, cluster and analyze blog and newspaper data, and discuss how the Media Cloud platform will be used in our…

Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Mapping Globalization

Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Fellow

Berkman Fellow Ethan Zuckerman presented on how understanding globalization requires new kinds of maps - maps of flow of bits, atoms and ideas.

Sep 2, 2008 @ 1:30 PM

The Climate of Innovation Around Information Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghanaian internet entrepreneur and researcher Eric Osiakwan and the Berkman Center's Ethan Zuckerman discussed the climate for innovation around information technology in Sub…

Jul 16, 2007 @ 12:00 AM

The Summer Doctoral Programme (SDP)

The Summer Doctoral Programme (SDP) is a joint effort of the Berkman Center and the Oxford Internet Institute, which provides top doctoral students from around the world with the…

Apr 10, 2007 @ 12:30 PM

Africa's Internet Infrastructure

Eric Osiakwan and Ethan Zuckerman

Eric Osiakwan and Ethan Zuckerman discussed developments in Africa's Internet and communications infrastructure.

Sep 26, 2006 @ 12:30 PM

Africa's Internet Infrastructure

Eric Osiakwan & Ethan Zuckerman

Eric Osiakwan & Ethan Zuckermann on Africa's Internet Infrastructure.

Mar 29, 2005 @ 12:30 PM

Global Voices Online

Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman

Berkman Luncheon Series: 3/29/05 - Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman on Global Voices