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Robert Faris is the research director at the Berkman Klein Center where he contributes and provides oversight to research at the center. His research includes the study of digital communication mechanisms by civil society organizations and social movements, and the emergence and impact of digitally-mediated collective action, as well as the influence of networked digital technologies on democracy and governance and the evolving role of new media in political change.  His current work includes applied research into the networked public sphere drawing on the Media Cloud platform, the monitoring and measurement of Internet activity and content controls based on the Internet Monitor platform, and research into the phenomenon of harmful speech online.  

Prior to joining the Berkman Klein Center in 2006, Rob worked in Latin America and Asia on issues related to economic development, public policy and environmental management. He has held research positions at the Harvard Institute for International Development and at Harvard’s Center for International Development where he worked on applied research projects focused on the role of natural resource management in economic development. At the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rob designed and carried out participatory regional planning studies using geographic and economic simulation tools to assess the economic, ecological, and social implications of urban development. Rob has worked in numerous South Asian countries while living in Nepal, where he taught science as a Peace Corps volunteer and ran an adventure travel business.

Faris holds a M.A. and PhD. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

 


Projects & Tools

AI: Media and Information Quality

As autonomous systems play an increasing role in selecting the content we see online, questions arise about AI's influence on human judgment, opinions, and perceptions. More

Harmful Speech Online

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is in the third year of a research, policy analysis, and network building effort devoted to the study of harmful speech, in close… More

Internet Governance

A multi-disciplinary, collaborative, and extended investigation into the multi-layered system that defines the function, structure, and operation of the Internet.  More

Internet Monitor

Internet Monitor's aim is to evaluate, describe, and summarize the means, mechanisms, and extent of Internet content controls and Internet activity around the world. More

Internet Robustness

The Internet Robustness project is developing, testing, and piloting software and protocols to safeguard the promise of the URL: that information placed online can remain there. More

Herdict

Herdict collects and disseminates real-­time, crowdsourced information about Internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and other blockages. More

Blogging Common

Blogging Common seeks to capture and present the spirit and wisdom of the blogosphere by surveying bloggers around the globe. More

Broadband

Since submitting its Next Generation Connectivity report to the FCC's National Broadband Plan committee, the Berkman Center has continued its research on broadband policy. More

Broadband Review

The Berkman Center conducted an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world, in order to help inform the… More

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. More

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… More

Impact of the Internet on Russian Politics, Media, and Society

With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the Berkman Center is undertaking a two-year research project to investigate the role of the Internet in Russian society. More

Input to ICANN Accountability and Transparency Review Process

The Berkman Center conducted an independent, exploratory study analyzing ICANN’s decision-making processes and communications with stakeholders. More

Media Re:public

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

Municipal Fiber Initiative

Fiber optic networks are essential infrastructure for businesses, schools, government offices, and homes. But should your town, city, or municipal electric utility directly build… More

OpenNet Initiative

A collaborative project between the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; and… More

Surveillance

The Surveillance project is drawing a map of the different forms and impacts of surveillance online. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation and run in collaboration with our partner… More


Publications

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2018

The Yemen War Online: Propagation of Censored Content on Twitter

This study documents and analyzes the sharing of information on Twitter among different political groups related to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.  More

Wednesday, 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. More

Thursday, Jun 29, 2017

The Shifting Landscape of Global Internet Censorship

An Uptake in Communications Encryption Is Tempered by Increasing Pressure on Major Platform Providers; Governments Expand Content Restriction Tactics

Documenting the practice of Internet censorship around the world through empirical testing of the availability of the world’s most-trafficked and influential websites. More

Monday, May 1, 2017

Analyzing Accessibility of Wikipedia Projects Around the World

This study, conducted by the Internet Monitor project, analyzes the scope of government-sponsored censorship of Wikimedia sites around the world.  More

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

Understanding Harmful Speech Online

This paper offers reflections and observations on the state of research related to harmful speech online. More

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

Networked Policy Making Avenues: Assessing the Role of Academics in Digital Policy

There are a growing number of examples that point toward a change in the way public policy is made in the digital age. This new context, which we refer to as networked… More

Monday, Sep 26, 2016

Privacy and Cybersecurity Research Briefing

This research briefing aims to translate findings from ongoing Berkman Klein Center privacy and cybersecurity research and activities into practical considerations and takeaways… More

Wednesday, Mar 9, 2016

Mobilization for Change

The role of the networked public sphere in advancing civic participation and collective action in the Arab region

“Mobilization for Change” is a series of reports examining the role of the networked public sphere in advancing civic participation and collective action in the Arab region. More

Thursday, Dec 10, 2015

Openness and Restraint

Structure, Discourse, and Contention in Saudi Twitter

"Openness and Restraint" maps and analyzes the structure and content of the Saudi Twittersphere and identifies the communities that coalesce around different political, religious,… More

Wednesday, Nov 4, 2015

Beyond the Wall

Mapping Twitter in China

"Beyond the Wall: Mapping Twitter in China" offers a rare look at the activity of Chinese Internet users on a platform that is largely unregulated by the state and only reachable… More

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015

Score Another One for the Internet? The Role of the Networked Public Sphere in the U.S. Net Neutrality Policy Debate

A new paper from the Media Cloud team concludes that a diverse set of actors working in conjunction through the networked public sphere played a central, arguably decisive, role… More

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World

The Internet Monitor project's second annual report—Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World—is a collection of roughly three dozen short contributions that… More

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere

The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia’s Media Ecology

"Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia’s Media Ecology," authored by Bruce Etling, Hal Roberts, and Robert Faris, is the… More

Thursday, Nov 14, 2013

Measuring Internet Activity

A (Selective) Review of Methods and Metrics

"Measuring Internet Activity: A (Selective) Review of Methods and Metrics," authored by Robert Faris and Rebekah Heacock, explores current efforts to measure digital activity… More

Thursday, Jul 25, 2013

Social Mobilization and the Networked Public Sphere: Mapping the SOPA-PIPA Debate

This paper uses a new set of online research tools to develop a detailed study of the public debate over proposed legislation in the United States designed to give prosecutors and… More

Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012

Mapping Russian Twitter

Drawing from a corpus of over 50 Million Russian language tweets collected between March 2010 and March 2011, the Berkman research team created a network map of 10,285 users… More

Friday, Mar 2, 2012

Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere

This paper summarizes the major findings of a three-year research project to investigate the Internet’s impact on Russian politics, media and society. We employed multiple methods… More

Thursday, 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,… More

Thursday, 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. More

Thursday, 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,… More

Monday, 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… More

Thursday, Dec 9, 2010

Political Change in the Digital Age: The Fragility and Promise of Online Organizing

In this paper, we discuss the possible impact of digital technologies in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes. More

Monday, Oct 18, 2010

Public Discourse in the Russian Blogosphere: Mapping RuNet Politics and Mobilization

This paper is the first release from the Berkman Center's Russian Internet research project. It analyzes the Russian blogosphere, with an emphasis on politics and public affairs. More

Thursday, 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… More

Monday, Feb 15, 2010

Next Generation Connectivity

A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world

The FCC announced that the Berkman Center would conduct an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world… More

Tuesday, Jun 16, 2009

Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent

This case study is part of a series produced by the Internet and Democracy project. It analyzes the composition of the Arabic blogosphere and its possible impact on political and… More

Thursday, 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. More


News

Thursday, Jul 12, 2018

Understanding Media and Information Quality in an Age of Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Algorithms and Machine Learning

Technology can be a threat to the integrity and quality of media, but also a source of potential solutions. More

Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015

Municipal broadband offers hope for lagging US internet

No one disputes the importance of affordable access to high-speed internet for economic growth in the 21st century. The United States has seen consistent and rapid growth in its… More

Thursday, May 26, 2011

61st Annual Conference of the International Communication Association

Attending ICA 2011 this week and trying to figure out which sessions to take in? A number of Berkman Center people are also participating in ICA 2011... More

Tuesday, Sep 21, 2010

ONI: Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere

The Berkman Center is pleased to share a new bulletin from the OpenNet Initiative: "Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere," which explores centralized platforms serving as… More

Wednesday, 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… More

Monday, Sep 15, 2008

Madison and the Smart Mob: The Promise and Limitations of the Internet for Democracy

The Internet & Democracy blog announces the release of Robert Faris and Bruce Etling's paper, “Madison and the Smart Mob: The Promise and Limitations of the Internet for Democracy… More


Courses

Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control - Spring 2012

This course examines current legal, political, social, and technical struggles for control of the global Internet—and the content and relationships it conveys. More

Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control - Spring 2011

This course examines current legal, political, social, and technical struggles for control of the global Internet—and the content and relationships it conveys. More

Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control - Spring 2009

This course examines current legal, political, social, and technical struggles for control of the global Internet—and the content and relationships it conveys. More

Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control - Spring 2008

This course examines current legal, political, social, and technical struggles for control of the global Internet—and the content and relationships it conveys. More


Events

Oct 4, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

Network Propaganda

Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics

VIDEO & PODCAST: New research on the media ecosystem around the 2016 US election offer new perspectives and methods for diagnosing the sources of, and potential solutions for, the… More

Apr 27, 2015 @ 5:00 PM

The Arab Networked Public Sphere: Social Mobilization Post-Revolutions

With special guests, Lina Attalah, Rob Faris (moderator), Fares Mabrouk, Dalia Othman and Nagla Rizk

Join us for a round-table discussion on the networked public sphere and social mobilization post-revolutions in the Arab world. More

Feb 10, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Herdict: The Verdict of the Herd

Jonathan Zittrain and the Herdict Team

Jonathan Zittrain and the Herdict Team will present Herdict Web, a tool that seeks to gain insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility. More

Mar 14, 2008 @ 7:30 PM

Berkman Book Release: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering

by Ronald Deibert (Editor), John G. Palfrey (Editor), Rafal Rohozinski (Editor), Jonathan Zittrain (Editor)

The OpenNet Initiative’s new book, Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, is now on bookshelves. More

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… More

Apr 24, 2007 @ 12:30 PM

Access Denied: the Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering

Robert Faris and John Palfrey previewed Access Denied

Rob Faris and John Palfrey gave us a preview of the OpenNet Initiative's most recent publication, Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering. More