Last updated on: 5/4/2016 | Author:

Zeynep Tufekci, PhD Biography

Assistant Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina
Pro to the question "Are Social Networking Sites Good for Our Society?"

“[S]ocial media is a counterweight to the ongoing devaluation of human lives. Social media’s rapid rise is a loud, desperate, emerging attempt by people everywhere to connect with *each other* in the face of all the obstacles that modernity imposes on our lives: suburbanization that isolates us from each other, long working-hours and commutes that are required to make ends meet, the global migration that scatters families across the globe, the military-industrial-consumption machine that drives so many key decisions, and, last but not least, the television – the ultimate alienation machine – which remains the dominant form of media…

[One category of social media user] that is often overlooked are people who are either not that comfortable at some aspects of face-to-face conversation but find online interaction to be liberating…

From Arab Spring dissidents who were minorities in their communities to my students from a variety of backgrounds, from gay teens in rural areas to just people who feel awkward when in company of new people, I’ve heard the sentiment again and again that new communication tools are what saved their (offline) social lives…

Can’t be close to your family because your job took you to the other end of the planet? You can still share updates on Facebook. Your government is censoring news of your protest? You can tweet photos of it. You cannot find people interested in a particular kind of music which moves you? Surely, there is a community.”

“Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships,” The Atlantic, Apr. 25, 2012

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Faculty Associate, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society Cambridge, Harvard University, 2012-present
  • Contributing Opinion Writer, New York Times, Nov. 2012-present
  • Assistant Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina, 2011-present
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, 2011-present
  • Andrew Carnegie Fellow , Andrew Carnegie Fellow in the Social Sciences and Humanities, 2015-2016
  • Fellow, Center for Information Technology and Policy Princeton, Princeton University, 2012-2013
  • Fellow, Harvard Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, 2011-2012
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maryland Baltimore, 2008-2011
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maryland, 2005-2008
  • Ad hoc reviewer, Science, American Journal of Sociology, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and British Journal of Sociology
  • Member, American Sociological Association
  • Member, International Communication Association
  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin, 2004
  • MA, University of Texas at Austin, 1999
  • BA, Sociology, Istanbul University (Turkey), 1995
  • Undergraduate degree, Computer Science, Bosphorus University (Turkey), date unknown
  • Twitter handle: @zeynep
  • Speaker, TEDGlobal 2014, TEDTalk titled: “Online Social Change: Easy to Organize, Hard to Win”
  • Named one of the 100 Most Influential Tech People on Twitter in Apr. 2014
  • Recipient, Public Sociology Award, Communication and Information Technology Section, American Sociological Association, 2014
  • Recipient, Top Paper Award for “Hope and Hype in Social Mobility: Technology, Jobs and the Dream of Meritocracy,” International Communication Association, 2005
  • PhD thesis was titled: “In Search of Lost Jobs: The Rhetoric and Practice of Computer Skills Training”
  • MA thesis was titled: “Mental Deskilling in the Age of the Smart Machine”
  • Her research has been featured in a number of publications including: New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, National Post (Canada), Guardian, South China Morning Post, TIME Magazine, Economist, Atlantic, Business Week, Forbes, and New Scientist
  • Her research has been covered by a number of broadcast media institutions including: Al Jazeera, CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Voice of America, and Radio Free Europe
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Are Social Networking Sites Good for Our Society?