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Joseph B. Walther

2023-2024 Rebooting Social Media Visiting Scholar

Joseph B. Walther holds the Bertelsen Presidential Chair in Technology and Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is a Distinguished Professor of Communication and former Director of the Center for Information Technology and Society. A Fulbright Scholar, a Fellow of the International Communication Association, and a Distinguished Scholar in the National Communication Association, he has previously held positions at several distinguished universities in the US, Europe, and Asia.

His research focuses on the impact of interpersonal and intergroup dynamics in the attitudes and behaviors people develop via mediated interaction, in personal relationships, groups, and inter-ethnic conflict. He developed the social information processing theory of mediated communication, the hyperpersonal model of online communication (by which people experience exceptionally intense emotions and connections), and warranting theory, among others, accompanied by numerous behavioral studies.

He is currently extending his work into new explanations for online hate, particularly examining the social motivations and gratifications that informally-organized participants enjoy in the collaborative production and propagation of racism and other forms of antagonism.


The Conversation

Online ‘likes’ for toxic social media posts prompt more − and more hateful − messages

RSM Visiting Scholar Joseph Walther explains the social approval theory of online hate: that posters of hateful messages are motivated by the approval of like-minded individuals.

Dec 4, 2023
The Washington Post

War in Gaza has some posting more than ever. Others are going dark.

Rebooting Social Media Visiting Professor Joe Walther comments on online communications during times of heightened tension.

Nov 11, 2023