Twitter whistleblower and technology expert Anika Collier Navaroli, ‘13 M.S., named Tow Center for Digital Journalism Fellow

August 10, 2023

Anika Collier Navaroli, '13 M.S., has returned to the Columbia Journalism School as a Senior Fellow in the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. A former senior content policy expert at Twitter and Twitch, she brings expertise in technology, media, policy, and human rights.

“We are so delighted to have a person of Anika’s courage and intellect as part of our community,” said Emily Bell, Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “Her unique experience and insights about the interaction of technological power and the free press will enrich our thinking and work during this critical time for journalism.”

Navaroli joins the Tow Center from Stanford University where her work as a Practitioner Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab examined the impacts of moderating hate speech on Trust & Safety employees within technology companies. Her research at CJS will focus on inserting new ideas and solutions into public debates about social media, technology, free expression, and democracy leading into 2024 elections.

“Anika Collier Navaroli’s work could not be more crucial than it is at this moment,” said Jelani Cobb, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism. “Her research on questions of digital ethics and moderation focus on precisely the types of concerns we should all be thinking about. We’re excited to welcome this distinguished alumna of CJS back to continue that work.”

Navaroli’s work at Twitter saw her on the front lines of modern battles for digital human rights — including the decision to suspend former President Donald Trump from the site. Within technology companies, Navaroli challenged the traditional balance made between free expression and safety by advocating for an approach that took societal power into account.

Her unique experience and insights about the interaction of technological power and the free press will enrich our thinking and work during this critical time for journalism.

Emily Bell

In 2022, Navaroli was subpoenaed by the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Her whistleblowing testimony there, and subsequently before the House Oversight Committee in 2023, provided the first insider insight into the inner workings of Twitter during the Trump era — and highlighted the warnings of impending violence that went unheeded by Twitter leading up to January 6, 2021.

In recognition of this dedication to human rights, she received the Riddenhour Truth-Telling Prize, and CJS’s Alumni Courage Award in 2023. The Courage Award was a special citation given specifically for her bravery as a whistleblower at Twitter.

Prior to her work within technology companies, Navaroli fought for systematic change in big data and internet freedom work by developing Color of Change’s technology accountability portfolio. She also led the first civil rights audit of a technology company.

Navaroli also worked at the Data & Society Research Institute, studying race and civil rights within emerging technologies and engaging in early discussions about bias within artificial intelligence systems. A graduate of CJS, Navaroli also holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida and earned her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, established in 2010, provides journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of digital journalism and serves as a research and development center for the profession as a whole.

Poised to take advantage of a unique combination of factors to foster the development of digital journalism, its New York location affords access to cutting-edge technologists, a strong culture of journalism and multiple journalism and communication schools — with outstanding universities attached to them. The Tow Center is where technology and journalism meet, and where education and practice meet.