Data and Society Research Institute (Data & Society) is a left-of-center think that promotes censorship of online speech and applies critical race theory to technology issues. 1 Commentary produced by Data & Society staff has called for an end to “race-neutral” policies that “tend to harm Black women the most.” 2 The nonprofit is supported by left-leaning foundations, including the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. 3
Founded in 2014 with a gift from Microsoft, 4 Data and Society Research Institute offers research and commentary on a wide range of subjects pertaining to technology. The Institute is led by Janet Haven, who formerly worked at the Open Society Foundations. 5 Its board members include former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, who joined in January 2022. 6 The founder and president of the board is danah boyd, an adjunct assistant professor at New York University who uses lowercase letters in her name. 7
Authors associated with Data & Society Research Institute have expressed fear that a defense of free speech “above all other values” may “play directly into the hands of white nationalists,” and have asserted that the “different approach[es]” to free speech of countries like Canada and the United Kingdom would benefit the United States. 8
The group has identified “misleading information” as a threat that must be combatted and has focused almost exclusively on “far-right” misinformation as the source of the problem, producing case studies that attack conservatives on social media for allegedly promoting misinformation. 9
Examples of Data & Society programming that evaluates technological issues through the lens of critical race theory include panels on “Race After Technology,” 10 “Metrics, Media, and Race,” 11 “Data and Racial Capitalism,” 12 and “The Fact of Blackness.” 13
Data & Society offers a land acknowledgement on its website, which claims to recognize that both Data & Society’s New York origins and its digital footprint benefitted from “stolen land acquired under the extractive logic of white settler expansion.” 14
Data & Society lists 12 left-leaning foundations as financial supporters during 2021. In addition to the Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation, the group was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Hewlett Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Someland Foundation, and the Internet Society Foundation. Another 2021 supporter is the National Science Foundation, an independent agency of the U.S. government. Arabella Advisors has provided funding as recently as 2020. 15
- “Databite No. 124: Race After Technology – Ruha Benjamin.” Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbcG7e2dBj0.
- Oduro, Serena. “A New AI Lexicon: Black Women Best.” Medium. September 9, 2021. https://medium.com/a-new-ai-lexicon/a-new-ai-lexicon-black-women-best-14eb5d059b2a
- Bradley, Brian. “STUDY: Libs BLITZ Tech Research Board Funded by Leftist Elites.” Media Research Center, February 7, 2022. https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/free-speech/brian-bradley/2022/02/07/study-libs-blitz-tech-research-board-funded-leftist.
-  “Data & Society Funder List (2013-2021).” Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://datasociety.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Funders-List-2021-December-2021.pdf.
- “Data & Society – Janet Haven.” Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 30, 2022. https://datasociety.net/people/haven-janet/.
- “Data & Society Welcomes Ellen Pao & Raina Kumra To Its Board of Directors.” Data & Society Research Institute. January 11, 2022. https://datasociety.net/announcements/2022/01/11/data-society-welcomes-ellen-pao-raina-kumra-to-its-board-of-directors/.
- “Danah Boyd.” NYU Tisch. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://tisch.nyu.edu/about/directory/itp/1340034710.
- Marwick, Alice E. “Are There Limits to Online Free Speech?” Data & Society Research Institute. January 5, 2017. https://points.datasociety.net/are-there-limits-to-online-free-speech-14dbb7069aec.
- Marwick, Alice, and Rebecca Lewis. “Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online.” Data & Society Research Institute. May 15, 2017. https://datasociety.net/library/media-manipulation-and-disinfo-online/.
- “Databite No. 124: Race After Technology – Ruha Benjamin.” YouTube. Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbcG7e2dBj0.
- “Databite No. 136: Metrics, Media, and Race.” YouTube. Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 30, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Lyb7Wo_mU.
- Amrute, Sareeta, and Emiliano Trere. “Episode 5: Data & Racial Capitalism.” Data & Society Research Institute. June 14, 2021. https://datasociety.net/library/episode-5-data-racial-capitalism/.
- Farrow, Kenyon, and Tamara K. Cooper. “The Fact of Blackness: COVID-19, Medical Data, and the Racial Design of Public Health.” Data & Society Research Institute. April 17, 2020. https://datasociety.net/library/the-fact-of-blackness/.
- “Digital Land Acknowledgment.” Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://datasociety.net/digital-land-acknowledgement/.
- “Data & Society Funder List (2013-2021).” Data & Society Research Institute. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://datasociety.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Funders-List-2021-December-2021.pdf.