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Faculty Profile:

Tero Karppi, Professor of Media Study

Tero Karppi, a Finnish-born new media scholar and theorist, focuses on disconnections in social media and network culture. Interested in understanding our culture of connectivity through different platforms and their operations – especially when they fail – he emphasizes the non- human actors and agencies involved. More broadly his research interests include media theory, new and digital media, social media, algorithms, digital economy and affect theory.

In his writings Karppi has explored different social media platforms and mechanisms of extracting value out of users. He has analyzed social media related phenomena such as digital suicide, dead Facebook users and online trolls. Recently Karppi has been collaborating with Kate Crawford from Microsoft Research and the MIT Center for Civic Media, analyzing the interconnectedness of financial markets and social media; the online first version of “Social Media, Financial Algorithms and the Hack Crash,” which analyzes the 2013 Twitter and Wall Street collision, was published in Theory Culture & Society.

Interviewed for a Boston Globe article about the “hack crash,” he observed that “Twitter is analyzed by algorithms, and financial markets are analyzed by algorithms. When these two fields connect over false information or a malicious tweet it can cause surprising consequences.” Karppi and Crawford argued that Twitter plays a significant role in the stock market, particularly since many high-speed trading tools are actually automated “speculative systems” which use media sources like Twitter to determine how to make almost instant financial plays. “Big data techniques, by which we mean large-scale data mining, predictive analytics, and machine learning, are being deployed in attempts to understand everything from human behavior to stock market tendencies,” they wrote.

Karppi is at work on a book- length manuscript tentatively titled “Disconnect: Platform Politics of Facebook User Engagement,” which examines the limits of user participation as a practical and theoretical problem in social media. The book argues that disconnection as a framework of research offers a novel viewpoint on social media which has the potential to challenge our prevailing conceptions of these sites. His prospective research projects include a critical take on the notion of prediction in relation to big data and social media.

Photo Credit: Miska Koivumäki

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