Affiliate Position

  • Co-Founder, Center for an Informed Public


Kate Starbird is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) and Director of the Emerging Capacities of Mass Participation (emCOMP) Laboratory. Kate's research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics—the study of the how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. More specifically, her research examines how people use social media to seek, share, and make sense of information after natural disasters (such as earthquakes and hurricanes) and man-made disasters (such as acts of terrorism and mass shooting events).

Starbird has explored three dimensions of this activity: 1) online organizing, i.e. how people connect and collaborate to help themselves and others in response to crisis events; 2) collective sensemaking and rumoring; and 3) the opportunistic exploitation of these events for the intentional spread of disinformation. This work touches on broader questions about the intersection of technology and society—including the vast potential for online social platforms to empower people to work together to solve problems, as well as salient concerns related to abuse and manipulation of and through these platforms and the consequent erosion of trust in information.

Kate earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Technology, Media and Society (2012) and holds a BS in Computer Science from Stanford University (1997).


  • Ph D, Technology, Media & Society, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2012
  • BA, Computer Science, Stanford University, 1997


  • University Faculty Lecture Award - University of Washington, 2024

Publications and Contributions


  • Auditing Google’s Search Headlines as a Potential Gateway to Misleading Content: Evidence from the 2020 US Election (2022)
    Stanford Trust and Safety Research Conference - Virtual
  • Participatory Disinformation: How Witting Agents and Unwitting Crowds Collaborate in the Spread of Disinformation Online (2022)
    2022 ASIS&T Annual Meeting - Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rumors, Mis- and Disinformation About the 2022 Midterm Elections: A Conversation with the UW Center for an Informed Public (2022)
    UW iSchool - Virtual
  • A Changed Landscape: Conceptual and Institutional Foundations of the Conservative Dilemma (2021)
    George Washington University Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics Conference - Virtual
  • Ensuring Transparency (2021)
    The Social Media Summit @MIT (SMS@MIT) - Virtual
  • National War College Talk (as part of their Commandant's Project 1-6 speaker series) (2021)
    National War College - Virtual
  • Teaching Disinfo in Higher Ed (2021)
    Social Science Research Council MediaWell - Virtual
  • The Conservative Dilemma: Digital Surrogate Organizations and the Future of Liberal Democracy (2021)
    Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics at George Washington University - Washington, D.C.
  • The Long Fuse: Misinformation and the 2020 Election (2021)
    The Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab - Virtual
  • Unraveling the Big Lie: Participatory Disinformation and its Threat to Democracy (2021)
    2021 GeekWire Summit - Seattle, WA
  • Coexisting With COVID-19: COVID and the Truth (2020)
    UW Graduate School Public Lectures - Seattle, WA
  • Election 2020 Retrospective – Information, Policy, and Outcomes Forum (2020)
    Evans School Dean’s Forum - Virtual
  • Keynote (2020)
    National Science Foundation‘s 2020 Cybersecurity Summit for Large Facilities and Cyberinfrastructure - Virtual
  • Stand With the Facts (2020)
    KUOW Public Radio - Virtual
  • What happened: Disinformation in 2020 elections (2020)
    Election Integrity Partnership: the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab - Virtual
  • Who can we trust? Technology's impact on democracy (2020)
    Town Hall Seattle - Seattle, WA
  • `Automatic Misinformation Detection on Social Media Spaces during Crisis Events (2016)
    2nd Annual International Conference on Computational Social Science - Evanston, Illinois
  • A Network-based Approach to Scoping Rumor Stories in Social Media (2016)
    36th Sunbelt Network Conference (INSNA) - Newport Beach, California
  • Modeling rumor diffusion on social media during crisis events (2016)
    36th Sunbelt Network Conference (INSNA) - Newport Beach, California
  • Did You Hear about the Computer that Can Detect Rumors?: An Algorithmic Approach to Rumor Detection (2015)
    Undergraduate Research Symposium - Seattle, WA USA
  • Expressed Uncertainty and Denials as Signals of Online Rumoring (2015)
    Collective Intelligence Conference - Santa Clara, CA USA
  • What Should Count?: A Quantitative Approach to Scoping Rumors in Social Media (2015)
    Social Media and Society Conference 2015 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada