Internet and Society: The Trans-Atlantic Research Future

The May 2024 Internet Democracy Initiative Conference


Northeastern University’s Internet Democracy Initiative (IDI), led by Prof. David Lazer and an interdisciplinary group of university faculty, is a platform for positive change in a socially interconnected world. 




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About the Conference

In May 2024, the Internet Democracy Initiative will host an Internet and Society Conference at the Northeastern University-London campus. Like the IDI, the conference will focus on the role of the internet in structuring democracy, society, and markets with emphasis on areas that have widespread information and social media implications. Conference sessions will feature academic, industry, and government experts engaging with one another across five thematic areas:

  1. misinformation,
  2. media narratives,
  3. cyber governance and cyber resilience,
  4. AI governance and regulations, and
  5. data access and ethics.

The goal of the conference is to further collaborations that can bring about the types of changes that the IDI imagines. Across the sessions, speakers and participants will be asked to consider mechanisms to ensure that historically excluded voices are represented, amplified, and considered in data structures and decision-making processes.

Conference Programme

9:30 -10:00

Devon House, 224/226

Welcome Address

David Lazer (Northeastern University) and Brian Ball (Northeastern University London)

10:00 -11:00

Devon House, 224/226


AI, Digital Governance and the Future of Democracy

Helen Margetts (Oxford Internet Institute)

 11:15 -12:15

Devon House, 224/226 and 214

Parallel Session

Network Science and Computational Approaches to Misinformation

Taha Yasseri (University College Dublin) and Max Falkenberg (City, University of London)

Perspectives on Global Cyber Governance

Xuechen Chen (Northeastern University London) and Pablo Calderon-Martinez (Northeastern University London)


12:30 -1:30*

Devon House, 224/226

Lunchtime Panel

Auditing of Algorithms and Platforms

Christo Wilson (Northeastern University) and Laura Edelson (Northeastern University)

Chaired by Lucy Butler (Northeastern University)

*Lunch will be served in 214 Devon House from 12:15 – 1:30


1:45 – 2:45

Devon House, 224/226 and 214

Parallel Session

Social Networks and Information

Brian Ball (Northeastern University London) and Beth Goldberg (Head of Research & Development at Jigsaw (Google))

Medical Misinformation and Public Health Implications

Silvio Amir (Northeastern University) and Ioannis Votsis (Northeastern University London)


2:45 – 3:45

Devon House, 224/226


Data Access: The Stakes for Researchers, Government, and Society

Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam) and Rebekah Tromble (George Washington University)

Chaired by Laura Edelson (Northeastern University)


4:15 – 5:15

Devon House, Heartspace

Fireside Chat

Regulating the Internet: Challenges and Opportunities

Dame Melanie Dawes (Chief Executive of Ofcom) and Tom Wheeler (former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission)

Chaired by David Lazer (Northeastern University)


5:30 – 6:30

Devon House, Heartspace

Plenary Panel

The Future of Global Content Moderation

Beth Goldberg (Head of Research & Development at Jigsaw (Google)), Peter Stern (Director of Content Policy and Stakeholder Engagement at Meta) and Ali Law (Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, UK and Ireland, TikTok)

Chaired by John Wihbey (Northeastern University)

Keynote Speakers

Helen Margetts

Helen Margetts is a Professor of Society and the Internet at Mansfield College, where she specializes in the relationship between digital technology and government, politics and public policy. She believes in the potential of multi-disciplinary collaboration and computational social science in developing public policy for the digital world, and has written over 100 books, publications, and policy reports in the area.

In addition to her academic work, Margetts is the Director of the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Insitute, and a member of   UK Government’s Digital Economy Council, the Home Office Scientific Advisory Council (HOSAC), the Advisory Board of the Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science at the University of Oxford, and the Advisory Board of the LSE Data Science Institute. She is also founding Editor-in-chief of the journal Policy and Internet.



Claes de Vreese

Claes De Vreese is a Distinguished Professor of AI and Society at the University of Amsterdam and Chair of Political Communication at The Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam. His academic work focuses on AI, media and democracy. 

De Vreese is also the founding Scientific Director of the Digital Democracy Center at the University of Southern Denmark and co-director of initiatives Information, Communication & the Data Society (ICDS), Human(e) AI, and Digital Communication Methods Lab at the University of Denmark. From 2019-2021, de Vreese served as the President of the International Communication Association.

Rebekah Tromble

Rebekah Tromble is a Senior Affiliate Fellow of the Internet Democracy Initiative at Northeastern University. 

Outside of her work with the IDI, Tromble is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs and the Director of the Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics (IDDP) at the George Washington University. She researches political communication on social media, digital research methodologies and research ethics, with a focus on political discourse on social media and exposure to misinformation and harmful content online.


Featured Panel

Dame Melanie Dawes

Chief Officer, Office of Communications of the United Kingdom

Since 2020, Dame Melanie Dawes has acted as an Exective Board Member and Chief Officer of OfCom, the United Kingdom’s regulatory body for telecommunications services. Prior to her role at OfCom, Dawes worked as a public servant for over 30 years, acting as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Director General of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, and Head of Business Tax for His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

She has also held roles with Which?, a consumer body which serves to test products for informed consumer choice, and the Patchwork Foundation, an organization promotes democratic participation in underrepresented populations.


Tom Wheeler

Former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States

Tom Wheeler is a businessman with over four decades of experience in the field of new telecommunications technologies and the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Throughout his tenure at the FCC, Wheeler led efforts to adopt Net Neutrality, increase privacy protections for consumers and enhance cybersecurity measures.

Prior to his role as chairman, Wheeler served as president and CEO of the National Cable Television Association (1979-1984) and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (1992-2004). He has also served as CEO of several tech companies, including the first company to offer high-speed delivery to home computers and the first digital video satellite service.

Northeastern’s state-of-the-art London campus facilities: pushing the boundaries of knowledge and discovery

Part of Northeastern University’s Global Campus Network and overlooking the River Thames and Tower Bridge, Northeastern University London (NU London) offers academically challenging educational programs designed to inspire innovative thinking, encourage interdisciplinary study, and provide global experiences, while equipping students with the advanced skills and experiences that are highly sought by employers and society.