What: Today on Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is questioning TikTok’s CEO Shou Chew, in a Congressional Hearing that may decide the fate of the Chinese social media company. The committee is expected to ask questions about user data, impacts on children, and privacy, as well as inquire about TikTok’s relationship with its owner ByteDance.

American University has various professors who are experts in social media, tech policy, misinformation, and cybersecurity who can address the various issues discussed in the hearing today.

When: March 23, 2023 - ongoing

Who: American University experts include:

Jessica Emami is a sociologist, author, and adjunct professorial lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences, with expertise in gender studies, global antisemitism, and social media. She is the author of the new Social Media Victimization-Theories and Impacts of Cyberpunishment, which analyzes the processes that drive people to punish others using social media, viewed through the lens of extremism and terrorism.

Adrienne L. Massanari is an associate professor in American University’s School of Communication. Her research interests include digital culture, online communities, platform politics, game studies, pop culture, and gender and race online. Prior to joining AU she was Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and affiliate faculty in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sasha O’Connell is a former senior executive at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and currently the Director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Program and the Justice Law and Criminology Master’s program at the School of Public Affairs. She has expertise in workforce diversity in law enforcement and national security environments, and in U.S. cyber policy, including the fields of encryption and “lawful access.” Prof. O’Connell is a Board Member of #NatSecGirlSquad an organization focused on building competent diversity in the national security space. She can comment on U.S. government cyber policy issues, including the important function of the National Cyber Director, as well as diversity in the cyber workforce.

Aram Sinnreich is a professor and the chair of the communications studies department in the School of Communication. His work focuses on the intersection of culture, law and technology, with an emphasis on subjects such as surveillance, critical data studies, intellectual property, remix culture, and music. He is the author of three books: Mashed Up (2010), The Piracy Crusade (2013), and The Essential Guide to Intellectual Property (2019). He has also written for publications including The New York Times, Billboard, Wired, The Daily Beast, and The Conversation.

Jorhena Thomas, adjunct professorial lecturer in the School of International Service and School of Public Affairs, is an expert in international affairs and intelligence. She has extensive experience in intelligence analysis, intelligence-led investigations, and homeland security. Prof. Thomas runs a practicum course on disinformation that focuses on helping U.S. Government entities address the evolving use of information warfare by nation states. She can talk about the way in which Internet users can protect themselves from disinformation and misinformation.

Kesa White is a Research Associate at the Polarization & Extremism Research Innovation Lab (PERIL). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science degree in Terrorism and Homeland Security from American University. Her work focuses on white supremacy, extremism in online spaces, and de-radicalization with a focus on homeland security. Kesa is a member of the Associate Board for the Anti-Defamation League. She is a policy and practitioner fellow with the Centre for the Analysis on the Radical Right (CARR), and she serves as an academic insight writer for the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET).

Heng Xu is the director of the Kogod Cybersecurity Governance Center and a professor in Kogod’s department of information technology & analytics. She is an expert in AI governance, privacy protection, data ethics, algorithmic fairness, analytical transparency, and accountability. Her research has received many awards and secured highly coveted grants. Dr. Xu also teaches classes in cybersecurity risk management and governance.

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