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Social Camouflage: From Face-to-Face to Digital Deception

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In this talk, Dr Christena Nippert-Eng will present work in the early stages of development that will be her focus while being a visiting Fellow at CRASSH over the next two weeks. The work will build on her interests in privacy and security, social behaviour across species, and the current U.S. political landscape. She will begin the talk by introducing her efforts to date in developing a grammar of camouflage behaviours, motivations, and intentions across species. Moving from the face-to-face realm, she will then examine camouflage behaviours online, zeroing in more specifically on the foundational assumptions and practices that foster the success of fake news and false facts. Like all camouflage behaviours, these depend not only on how well engineered the deception is but also on the target’s need/desire to believe and (immediately or eventually) act on what is perceived. She will conclude with some thoughts on digital deception – and perhaps its exposure—as a relatively new source of socio-political-economic power.

About the speaker

Dr Christena Nippert-Eng is a sociologist and Professor of Informatics at Indiana University Bloomington. Her scholarly interests include cognitive and formal sociology, everyday life, privacy, culture, technology, user-centered design, and multi-species research. She is currently a Visiting Fellow on the Technology and Democracy project. Her most recent books are:

  • Watching Closely: a Guide to Ethnographic Observation – an exercise-based approach to increasing one’s skill set in envisioning, collecting, and re-presenting observation-based data. (OUP, 2015)
  • Gorillas Up Close – a beautifully photographed book about western lowland gorillas in zoos and the wild, in collaboration with John Dominski, Fred Grier, Jim Horner, Eugene Limb, Sally Limb, and Miguel Martinez. (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, 2016)

This talk is part of the Technology and Democracy Events series.

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