Deb Roy

Health of the Public Sphere: Measurement and Interventions

Speaker series on fake news and misinformation, co-sponsored by the NULab at Northeastern University.

This talk highlights current research at the MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines where we develop methods for large scale analysis of social media and news. Based on analytics, the talk  describes “ailments” of the public sphere such as tribalization of networks spread of false information, early work on metrics for measuring the “health” of the public sphere, and experiments in using these metrics to improve the health of public discourse.

Deb Roy is an Associate Professor at MIT where he directs the Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM) based at the Media Lab. His lab explores new methods in media analytics (natural language processing, social network analysis, speech, image, and video analysis) and media design (information visualization, games, communication apps) with applications in children’s learning and social listening. Roy is also co-founder and chairman of Cortico, a not-for-profit media technology company that is developing media technologies and services with the aim of improving the health of discourse in the public sphere. Cortico and LSM collaborate in order to translate MIT research into field-ready scalable technologies, and to inform new research questions at MIT grounded in field experience. He was co-founder and CEO of Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics company, which MIT Technology Review named as one of the 50 most innovative companies of 2012. Bluefin was acquired by Twitter in 2013, Twitter’s largest acquisition at the time. From 2013-2017 Roy served as Twitter’s Chief Media Scientist. In this role, he guided Twitter’s product strategy and led the transition of the Bluefin team to become a global data science capability for the platform. An author of over 130 academic papers, his popular TED talk Birth of a Word presents his research into his own son’s language development that led to new ideas in media analytics. A native of Canada, Roy received a Bachelor of Applied Science (computer engineering) from the University of Waterloo and a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT.