Department of Political Science


Dr Jeffrey Howard is awarded UKRI 2021 Future Leaders Fellowship

9 September 2021

Congratulations to our colleague Dr Jeffrey Howard who has been awarded a 2021 Future Leaders Fellowship by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). He is one of the ninety-seven UK’s most promising science and research leaders who have received £113 million of funding in total.


Over the past year, the headlines have been filled with controversies about speech on social media -- like whether Twitter was right to silence the American president, or whether YouTube has done enough to combat coronavirus misinformation, or whether Facebook should be taking stronger action against foreign electoral propaganda. Tech companies disagree about what speech should and should not be allowed on social media; and policymakers disagree fundamentally about what regulations of social media platforms can be justified. In the face of all this disagreement, there is enormous practical demand for philosophical guidance to navigate us through these difficult waters. 

Synthesising philosophical principles with expertise in law, computer science, and social science, this project's multidisciplinary team will deliver guidance for companies, policymakers, and ordinary citizens. Among other inquiries, the team led by Dr Jeffrey Howard will determine the categories of harmful speech that platforms have a moral obligation to moderate, the appropriate techniques (both manual and AI-powered) through which companies should moderate content, the proper legal regulation of content moderation practices, and the obligations of social-media users to report or otherwise challenge harmful content online. The project will produce a wide range of academic publications, podcasts, policy reports, and curricula. 

“Combining philosophical principles with insights from law, computer science, and social science, the project will explore these issues through a range of academic publications, policy reports, podcasts, and a curriculum promoting good online citizenship. In doing so, it will generate the philosophical guidance that companies, policymakers, and citizens need to combat harmful speech on social media.” Dr Jeffrey Howard

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships announcement