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NY Times: “How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right”

Zeynep Tufekci, Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and Principal Researcher for the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), was lauded in the Aug. 23 New York Times for her ability to evaluate complex social and technological issues and anticipate their ramifications.

Zeynep Tufekci giving a presentation.
Zeynep Tufekci speaks at the 2017 Nobel Week Dialogue
“The Future of Truth.” Photo by Bengt Oberger. CC-BY-SA-4.0

Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote a glowing profile of Tufekci for the Sunday edition, recounting how her early life and career as a computer programmer in Turkey shaped her worldview and highlighting the many accurate predictions she has made in recent years.

In 2011, she went against the current to say the case for Twitter as a driver of broad social movements had been oversimplified,” Smith writes. “In 2012, she warned news media outlets that their coverage of school shootings could inspire more. In 2013, she argued that Facebook could fuel ethnic cleansing. In 2017, she warned that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm could be used as a tool of radicalization.”

In early 2020, Tufekci condemned the CDC’s recommendations against mask use on Twitter and in an op-ed for the Times. Her public criticism was reportedly the tipping point that convinced the agency to change its stance in April.

In May, Tufekci joined with over 100 experts – including two Nobel laureates, the editors-in-chief of Nature and The Lancet, and medical and scientific leaders from Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the University of Texas – to sign an open letter to all U.S. governors, asking them to “require cloth masks to be worn in all public places, such as stores, transportation systems, and public buildings.”

Read “How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right” for more about her insights and impact.

A contributing writer for The Atlantic since 2019, Tufekci has written several columns focused on the pandemic and responses to the crisis, as well as examinations of recent social media developments and Black Lives Matter protests. Click below to read some of her recent columns.