Desmond Patton: Understanding Social Media and Gang Violence (Ep. 127)

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Dr. Desmond Upton Patton (@SAFELab) is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Data Science Institute. His research utilizes qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine how and why youth and gang violence, trauma, grief and identity are expressed on social media and the real world impact they have on well-being for low-income youth of color.

His current research projects examine:

  1. How gang involved youth conceptualize threats on social media
  2. The extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence
  3. Developing an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts in partnership with the Data Science Institute at Columbia.

Dr. Patton’s research on Internet Banging has been discussed on several media outlets, including the Chicago TribuneUSA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and Vice; it  was most recently cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in the Elonis v. United States case which examined the issues of interpreting threats on social media. Before coming to Columbia in July of 2015, Dr. Patton was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and School of Information. He received a BA in Anthropology and Political Science, with honors, from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro, an MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and a PhD in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.


SAFELab at Columbia University’s School of Social Work

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

News Roundup

Mueller indicts 13 Russians in ’16 election hacking

 You have undoubtedly heard by now about FBI special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s indictment of 13 Russians who allegedly maintained a vast network of content creators in order to sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. The defendants used social media by amplifying primarily mainstream news content, according to a new Columbia University study. The network stole Americans’ identities, and created fake social media profiles to spread divisive content that favored Donald Trump.

But the hacking began in 2014, prior to president Trump’s announcement that he would be running for president. The defendants even promoted content that favored Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. So the Trump administration is using this to try to illustrate that the Russians’ primary effort was to subvert our entire political system, rather than support Donald Trump’s election, specifically. Trump’s opponents argue that Russian conspirators saw the seating of Donald Trump as President as a no-brainer, given his susceptibility to blackmail because of his alleged hiring of prostitutes in 2013 in Moscow and his real estate deals with Russians. Sharon Lafraniere and Matt Apuzzo report for the New York Times. Craig Timberg reports for the Washington Post. But you can find coverage everywhere.

Meanwhile, Trump’s Director of National Intelligence warns that there is “no doubt” that Russians are planning to hack this year’s midterm elections. The consensus is that we’re not prepared for that. In fact, the website Hamilton 68, reported that Russian bots flooded Twitter with pro-gun messaging following Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland Florida that left 17 dead.

FCC is investigating its own Chairman Pai

Cecilia Kang at the New York Times reported last week that the FCC’s Inspector General is investigating FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for illegally paving the way for Sinclair Broadcasting. Pai led the agency in several efforts that, appearing to some, seemed timed to Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, including the relaxation of the media ownership cap and newspaper broadcast cross-ownership rules.

Amazon boosts lobbying spending

Spencer Soper, Naomi Nix, Ben Brody and Bill Allison report for Bloomberg that Amazon has significantly increased its lobbying spending in Washington. A number of policy issues have taken center-stage for the company, as Amazon seeks to expand into different areas, including healthcare. The company’s lobbying spending has grown by over 400% since 2012, according to Bloomberg. You can find the full report there.

Federal Court: Grubhub drivers are contractors not employees

In a major victory for on-demand takeout company Grubhub, the U.S. Dictrict Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Grubhub drivers are contractors not employees. The plaintiff sued Grubhub for paying subpar wages based on his classification as a contractor. The court ruled that Grubhub does not exercise a requisite amount of color over drivers’ work to justify classifying them as employees. Dara Kerr reports in CNET.

Google tests 911-caller locator system

Google tested a new system that would improve the ability of 911 operators to locate emergency callers. Currently, 911 calls made via cell phone are difficult to pinpoint. Ryan Knutson has the story in the Wall Street Journal.