Faculty Profile: Caitlin Ring Carlson

Communication Professor Caitlin Ring Carlson received the Faculty of the Year award for academic year 2014-15. According to Mary Ellen Engman, who assisted student government leaders in conducting the survey, Carlson was the overwhelming winner based on votes cast by the graduating class of 2015. Carlson joined the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2013.
Carlson, who teaches strategic communications, media law, public affairs, research methods and social media management, uses her consultancy class like an internship. Students take on a project for a community agency and write communication plans, establish editorial calendars, conduct outreach, and evaluate the success of their campaigns.

The students are so willing to tackle projects head on that they push me to work harder,” Carlson said. “They are just as enthusiastic and passionate about the work as I am.”
Carlson focuses her research and scholarship on media law and policy as they relate to new media, freedom of expression, and social justice. Her most recent publications address digital ethics, hate speech, and the role of social media companies to manage content online.

“There are more than 20,000 problematic websites deciding to inciting hatred based on race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation,” she said. “The policies of social media sites are not transparent and vary from company to company. It’s like the Wild West, but they have legal and ethical responsibilities to manage content online.”

Carlson has also explored censoring hate speech from the user’s perspective. In a preliminary survey research project, she found that “unlike more traditional media companies, users saw social media organizations solely as for profit businesses whose terms of service absolved them of any democratic responsibility to protect free expression.”

Carlson expects to publish her findings later this year.

Published January 2016.

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