The Emergent Structure of the Online Information Ecosystem

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Join the Cyber Policy Center, together with the Program on Democracy and the Internet on Tuesday, January 31st, from Noon–1 PM Pacific, for "The Emergent Structure of the Online Information Ecosystem" a discussion with David Lazer, Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences at Northeastern University and Director of the Lazer Lab. The session will moderated by Nate Persily, Co-Director of the CPC and James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.

The first part of this presentation examines the emergent and sometimes paradoxical logic of the internet news ecosystem, in particular: (1) collectively, news diets have become far more concentrated in a small number of outlets; (2)  however, individuals have relatively diverse news diets-- almost certainly far more diverse than was plausible pre-Internet (as measured by number of unique content producers); (3) the social-algorithmic curation system of the Internet tends to point people to content with their preferences, sometimes in unlikely places. The greater diversity of consumption of news measured by number of unique outlets may not actually result in diversity of content.

The second part of the presentation will discuss the development of the National Internet Observatory, a large, NSF-supported effort to create a privacy-preserving data collection/data analytic system for the broader research community.

This session is part of the Winter Seminar Series, a series spanning January through March, hosted at the Cyber Policy Center with the Program on Democracy and the Internet. Sessions are in-person and virtual, with in-person attendance offered to Stanford affiliates only. Lunch is provided for in-person attendance.

In person attendance is available to Stanford affiliates and virtual attendance via zoom is open to the public; registration is required.


David Lazer (pronounced Lazar) is a University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences, Northeastern University, and Co-Director, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Prior to coming to Northeastern University, he was on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School (1998-2009). In 2019, he was elected a fellow to the National Academy of Public Administration. His research has been published in such journals as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Political Science Review, Organization Science, and the Administrative Science Quarterly, and has received extensive coverage in the media, including the New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS Evening News.

He is among the leading scholars in the world on misinformation and computational social science and has served in multiple leadership and editorial positions, including as a board member for the International Network of Social Network Analysts (INSNA), reviewing editor for Science, associate editor of Social Networks and Network Science, numerous other editorial boards and program committees.