King Center on Global Development
Professor of Communication
Department of Communication
Jennifer Pan is a Professor of Communication and Senior Fellow at FSI at Stanford University. Pan’s research focuses on political communication and authoritarian politics. Pan uses experimental and computational methods with large-scale datasets on political activity in China and other authoritarian regimes to answer questions about how autocrats perpetuate their rule. How political censorship, propaganda, and information manipulation work in the digital age. How preferences and behaviors are shaped as a result. Pan’s work has appeared in peer reviewed publications such as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, and Science.
King Center Supported Research
2022 - 2023 Academic Year | Global Development Research Funding
Digital Technology and Autocracy
Digital media technologies have changed how authoritarian governments can effectively reach the public. In the era of broadcast media, audiences faced relatively few choices in the media environment, and autocracies could effectively capture public attention by dominating broadcast channels. With the growth of digital media, audiences have moved from a low-choice media environment to a high-choice environment where there are vast numbers of media outlets, products, and content producers competing for limited public attention. This means, in order for political propaganda to reach the public, authoritarian regimes cannot focus solely on dominating a relatively small number of mass media broadcast channels. This project examines how the Chinese government competes for fragmented audience attention in this era of digital media. It sets out to answer questions about when the government uses censorship, when it uses propaganda, and whether these strategies are substitutes or complements.
2018 - 2019 Academic Year | Junior Faculty Research Grants
Digital Technology and Ethnic Violence in Myanmar
More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since a security crackdown began in August 2017. According to U.N. human rights investigators, Facebook played a role in spreading hate speech targeted at Rohingya Muslims and in inciting violence against the Muslim minority. This research examines how individuals in Myanmar use digital technologies and explores the relationship between social media and ethnic violence. Using over half a million smartphone screenshots gathered from participants in Myanmar immediately prior to the outbreak of violence in Rakhine, this project systematically analyzes these data and examines the causal relationships between online behavior and ethnic conflict.