Zeynep Tufekci

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Zeynep Tufekci
Zeynek Tufekci 01.jpg
Zeynep Tufekci in 2017
Academic background
Alma materIstanbul University
Bosphorus University
University of Texas at Austin
Academic work
Sub-disciplinesocial media
InstitutionsUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The New York Times

Zeynep Tufekci (/ˈznɛp tʊˈfɛki/ ZAY-nep tuu-FEK-chee; Turkish: Zeynep Tüfekçi) is a Turkish[1] writer, academic, and techno-sociologist known primarily for her research on the social implications of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in the context of politics and corporate responsibility. She is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina and a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in Massachusetts. Tufekci is a monthly contributor for The New York Times op-ed page on topics related to technology's social impact.

In 2015, she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in the Social Sciences and Humanities[2] for the inaugural class.


Tufekci was born in Istanbul, Turkey, near Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district.[3] She worked as a computer programmer before becoming an academic and turning her attention to social science.[4] Her research and publications include topics such as the effect of big data on politics and the public sphere,[5] how social media affects social movements, and the privacy and security vulnerabilities exposed by the coming Internet of Things. In general, she has sought to outline the potential negative societal consequences of social media and big data, while not rejecting these phenomena outright.

Speaking engagements[edit]

She gave her first TED talk in October 2014 on online social change, for example, which argued that while technology can make organizing social movements easier, it does not necessarily lead to better outcomes.[6]

She gave a third TED talk in September 2017 on how social media and tech companies are not passive actors[7] – "how the same algorithms companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information", and stating in her TED talk: "We need a digital economy where our data and our attention is not for sale to the highest bidding authoritarian or demagogue."[8] She made the case that the ad-based infrastructure of platforms like Facebook and YouTube were helping authoritarians.

Her earlier second TED talk had argued that artificial intelligence and especially machine learning had made human morals more important

In the fall of 2017 Tufekci delivered a talk entitled Democracy vs. Clickbait, at Dartmouth's Neukom Institute's Donoho Colloquium, where she stated that she'd done "all the calculations" and "read their FCC filings" and discovered that Facebook is only making about $10 to $20 USD per year per person. "Charge me that," she suggested, "and make me the customer."[9]

On May 9, 2019 Tufekci was featured as a speaker at the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security Symposium at the Columbia Journalism School.[10]

She was featured in a special report by The Economist on technology and politics in which she argues that the increasingly individualized targeting of voters by political campaigns is leading to a reduction of the "public sphere" in which civic debate takes place publicly.[11]

Books and articles[edit]

In May 2017, Yale University Press published Tufekci's Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest. The book is available to download for free from Twitterandteargas.org.

In March 2018, Tufekci wrote in the New York Times that, "YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century." She cited the rise of conspiracy videos during the Trump administration and especially after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.[12]

In January 2018, she wrote a cover story for Wired titled "It's the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech." She has since written more columns for Wired.

She has also been writing columns for The Scientific American as of February 2019, including one on sociological versus psychological story telling titled "The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones."


  • Tufekci, Zeynep (2017). Twitter and tear gas: the power and fragility of networked protest. Yale University Press.
Critical studies and reviews of Tufekci's work


  1. ^ Singal, Jessie, "Why Did WikiLeaks Help Dox Most of Turkey's Adult Female Population?", NY Mag, retrieved 2017-10-31
  2. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep. "Zeynep Tufekci". Carnegie Foundation. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  3. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep (June 9, 2015). "How Hope Returned to Turkey". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  4. ^ "Zeynep Tufekci". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  5. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep (2014-07-02). "Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politics". First Monday. 19 (7). ISSN 1396-0466.
  6. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep. "Online social change: easy to organize, hard to win". www.ted.com. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  7. ^ Abbruzzese, Jason. "Zeynep Tufekci tried to warn us about Facebook and politics back in 2012". Mashable. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  8. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep, We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads, retrieved 2018-03-24
  9. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep, Democracy vs. Clickbait, retrieved 2018-08-29
  10. ^ video of the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security Symposium, May 9, 2019 at the Columbia Journalism School
  11. ^ "Politics by numbers". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  12. ^ Tufekci, Zeynep (2018-03-10). "Opinion | YouTube, the Great Radicalizer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  13. ^ Online version is titled "Is there any point to protesting?"

External links[edit]