About Us

Our story

The National Internet Observatory is funded by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation: NSF Grant: Mid-scale RI-1 (M1:IP): Observatory for Online Human and Platform Behavior

Northeastern News has written several articles explaining why the Observatory is so vital for scientists: "Can we better understand online behavior? These researchers will dig deep to find out" (News@Northeastern, October 2021) and "Unprecedented data collection project, 'a huge missing piece of the study of the Internet,' now underway" (News@Northeastern, September 2022).

Lastest media
In April 2023, the 59th Annual Robert D. Klein Lecture at Northeastern was led by cybersecurity expert Christo Wilson.

Contact us

If you have questions about the research project you can contact us directly at help@nationalinternetobservatory.org

Core team

David Lazer

Northeastern University

David Lazer is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences at Northeastern University. 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. He has published prominent work on online information consumption, democratic deliberation, collective intelligence, computational social science, and algorithmic auditing, across a wide range of prominent journals such as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and the American Political Science Review. His research has received extensive coverage in the media, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, and CBS Evening News. He is a co-leader of the COVID States Project, one of the leading efforts to understand the social and political dimensions of the pandemic in the United States. 

Christo Wilson

Northeastern University

Christo Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University. He is a founding member of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at Northeastern, and serves as director of the BS in Cybersecurity program. Professor Wilson's research focuses on online security and privacy, with a specific interest in algorithmic auditing. Algorithmic auditing is an emerging, interdisciplinary area that uses experimental techniques to measure the black-box algorithmic systems that pervade daily life in order to increase transparency and accountability of these systems. His work is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, a Sloan Fellowship, the Mozilla Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the Anti Defamation League, the Data Transparency Lab, the European Commission, Google, Pymetrics, and Verisign Labs.

David Choffnes

Northeastern University

David Choffnes is an associate professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University, and Executive Director of Northeastern’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award, the ACM/CRA Computing Innovation Fellowship, and the Outstanding Dissertation Award in EECS at Northwestern University. His research has been recognized with best paper awards three times (USENIX Security 2017, NDSS 2018, IMC 2019) and two Applied Networking Research Prizes. His work has been covered by the popular press including the New York Times, ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS News, PBS, NPR, the Boston Globe, NBC News, and Science Magazine, and is supported by the National Science Foundation, Department of Homeland Security, Measurement Lab, Google, Comcast, Verizon, Arcep, and the Data Transparency Lab.

John Basl

Northeastern University

John Basl is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University and an associate director of the Northeastern Ethics Institute leading the institute’s AI and data ethics initiatives. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, both at Harvard University. He is a moral philosopher working primarily in AI and data ethics. He is a co-author of “Building Data and AI Ethics Committees” (published with Accenture) and “Getting from Commitment to Content in AI and Data Ethics: Justice and Explainability” (published with the Atlantic Council). 

Michelle N. Meyer

Geisinger Health System and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Michelle N. Meyer is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Bioethics and Decision Sciences in the Geisinger College of Health Sciences and Chief Bioethics Officer at Geisinger Health System, where she is also faculty co-director of the Behavioral Insights Team in the Steele Institute for Health Innovation. Her normative and empirical work has been funded by the U.S. NIH, FDA, and NSF and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, and Open Philanthropy; published in Science, Nature, PNAS, and the New England Journal of Medicine; and covered by numerous U.S. and international news outlets. She has also published in the New York Times, Slate, Wired, and the L.A. Times and served on an American Psychological Association blue ribbon commission, multiple NASEM study committees, and the editorial board of Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. 

Ethics Advisory
Board members

Members of the NIO Ethics Advisory Board will act in an advisory capacity only.

Megan Doerr

Sage Bionetworks

Megan Doerr, MS, LGC is a director at Sage Bionetworks where she supports innovative, participant-centric approaches to open science. Ms. Doerr leads Sage’s Applied ELSI Research team, concentrating on the ethical, legal, and social implications of informed consent, research participation, data governance, and data sharing with a focus on participatory approaches to research. She has developed electronic informed consent processes for a variety of studies including the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s All of Us Research Program and served as a consultant to several of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)’s COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) vaccine trials. At Sage, Ms. Doerr has led the development for a replicable methodology for the release of app-mediated research data to broad communities of solvers. She chairs the researcher application subcommittee for the All of Us Research Program and sits on the researcher access board for the All of Us dataset. Through the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, Ms. Doerr works to promote global innovation and best practices in research governance. Ms. Doerr is a licensed genetic counselor who previously practiced at the Cleveland Clinic.

Nancy Kass

Johns Hopkins University

Nancy Kass, ScD, is the Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education for the Johns Hopkins University and is the Phoebe R. Berman Professor of Bioethics and Public Health in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), where she also is Professor of Health Policy and Management (BSPH) and Deputy Director of Public Health (BI). In 2009-2010, Dr. Kass was based in Geneva, Switzerland, where she was working with the World Health Organization (WHO) Ethics Review Committee Secretariat. Dr. Kass received her B.A. from Stanford University, completed doctoral training in health policy from JHSPH, and completed post-doctoral training in bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University.

As Vice-Provost, Dr. Kass focuses on the quality of PhD education, including promoting transparency about programs, diversity of the student body, professional development, and mentoring. In her faculty role, Dr. Kass conducts empirical work in bioethics, public health, and human research. Her publications are in U.S. and international research ethics, public health ethics (including ethics and obesity prevention, ethics and HIV policy, and ethics and public health preparedness), and ethics and the learning healthcare system. Dr. Kass is Chair of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative Central IRB; she previously co-chaired the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Committee to develop Recommendations for Informed Consent Documents for Cancer Clinical Trials and served on the NCI’s central IRB; she served as consultant to the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and to the National Academy of Sciences. Recent research projects have examined ethics and learning health care, improving informed consent in research, ethics guidance for Ebola and other infectious outbreaks, and bioethics capacity development in low income settings. Dr. Kass served as director of the JHSPH PhD program in bioethics and health policy from its inception until 2016. She has directed or co-directed the Johns Hopkins Fogarty African Bioethics Training Program since its inception in 2000. Dr. Kass is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and an elected Fellow of the Hastings Center.

Alan Rubel

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alan Rubel (JD, PhD) is Professor and Director of the Information School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Professor and former Director of the UW Center for Law, Society & Justice, a member of the Department of Medical History & Bioethics (in the School of Medicine and Public Health), and a faculty affiliate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. In 2018-19 he was a visiting scholar at Delft Technological University (Netherlands). Prior to joining the faculty at UW, he was a Greenwall Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities. He served for two years as a law clerk to Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Prior to graduate school he worked for several years as a ranger and biological technician at Olympic National Park. His 2021 book, Algorithms and Autonomy: The Ethics of Automated Decision Systems (with Clinton Castro and Adam Pham) is available open access from Cambridge University Press

Science Advisory
Board members

Members of the NIO Science Advisory Board will act in an advisory capacity only.

Nick Diakopoulos

Northwestern University

Nicholas Diakopoulos is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies and Computer Science (by courtesy) at Northwestern University where he directs the Computational Journalism Lab and is Director of Graduate Studies for the Technology and Social Behavior PhD program. His research focuses on computational journalism, including aspects of automation and algorithms in news production, algorithmic accountability and transparency, and social media in news contexts. He is author of the award-winning book, Automating the News: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Media, published by Harvard University Press. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his Sc.B. degree in Computer Engineering from Brown University.  

Nate Matias

Cornell University

Dr. J. Nathan Matias (@natematias) organizes citizen behavioral science for a safer, fairer, more understanding internet. A Guatemalan-American, Nathan is an assistant professor in the Cornell University Department of Communication and field member in Information Science. He is also a 2022-23 Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication and Siegel Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University.

Nathan is founder of the Citizens and Technology Lab, a public-interest research group at Cornell that organizes citizen behavioral science and behavioral consumer protection research for digital life. CAT Lab has worked with communities of tens of millions of people on reddit, Wikipedia, and Twitter to test ideas for preventing harassment, broadening gender diversity on social media, responding to human/algorithmic misinformation, managing political conflict, and auditing social technologies. In his scientific research and his role as co-founder of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research, he has pioneered industry-independent evaluations on the impact of technology in society.

Kate Starbird

University of Washington

Kate Starbird is an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington (UW). Dr. Starbird’s research sits at the intersection of human-computer interaction and the emerging field of crisis informatics — i.e. the study of the how social media and other information-communication technologies are used during crisis events. Currently, her work focuses on the production and spread of online rumors, misinformation, and disinformation during crises — including natural disasters, political disruptions, and a global pandemic. In particular, she investigates the participatory nature of online disinformation campaigns, exploring both top-down and bottom-up dynamics. Dr. Starbird received her BS in Computer Science from Stanford (1997) and her PhD in Technology, Media and Society from the University of Colorado (2012). She is a co-founder and currently serves as director of the UW Center for an Informed Public.