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I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Michigan. My research examines how communication technologies construct social and political changes, and how social and political powers shape and regulate the design and operation of such technologies. Using a mixed-methods approach, my ongoing research has two focal areas: 1) the integration of algorithmic decision-making and data analytics into politics and social life, and 2) the mechanism and consequence of political astroturfing and propaganda on digital platforms.


In January 2021, my two papers were named Top Student Paper Award from International Communication Association (ICA) Political Communication Division (First author) and ICA Communication and Technology Division (Co-author), respectively. In May 2018, my two papers received Top Student Paper Award from ICA Visual Communication Division and ICA Public Diplomacy Interest Group, respectively. In August 2018, my co-authored paper was named Top Paper Award from Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). My research has received recognition and support from Chevening ScholarshipsAmerican Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)Volkswagen FoundationLieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese StudiesInternational Institute Student Fellowships, and Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED).

My studies have appeared in Policy & InternetSocial Media + SocietyCommunication ResearchJournal of Communication, among other peer reviewed journals.

I received B.A. in Public Administration from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and M.Sc.in Political Communication from the University of Glasgow. Prior to academia, I was a journalist in China.

My CV is available here


My research interests lie at the intersection of digital media, political communication, technology governance, and computational social science. My work recognizes that the modes of power have significantly shifted in the era of algorithms, big data, and computation. As such, we need to understand how, why, and by whom power relations are transformed through communication technologies, and how the new modalities of power can influence various actors and the operation of technologies. As we continue relying more on digital media, my work contributes to the ongoing debate about the political and social implications of technological change.

I am also a member of several research groups, including Big Data Innovation and Governance LabPolitics and Communication Lab, and Mobile Communication Collective.

My publications and current projects can be found on Google scholar and ResearchGate.


Working Papers

  • Liang, F., Zhu, Q., & Li, M. (In-progress). The effects of source flagging on news sharing: Quasi-experimental evidence from Twitter.
  • Liang, F. & Chen, Y. (In-progress). The making of good citizens? China’s Social Credit System and the new infrastructure of social quantification.
  • Campbell, S., Ross, M., Ling, R., & Liang, F. (In-progress). Micro and locational mobilities amid the Pandemic: Why mobile communication still matters while staying at home.
  • Liang, F. & Hussain, M. M. (In-progress). Liking authoritarian media on Facebook? Predicting the popularity of China’s media on a global platform.
  • Campbell, S., Liang, F., & Frith, J. (2020). Imagining 5G: Social shaping through news media in China and the US.
  • Liang, F., Zhu, Q., Weeks, B. E., & Kwak, N. (2020). From online credibility to political deliberation: How credibility perception and technological competence predict cross-cutting discussion.


Peer-Reviewed Articles

Book Chapters

Other Publications

Papers Under Review

  • Liang, F., Chen, Y., & Zhao, F. (R&R). The platformization of propaganda: How Xuexi Qiangguo expands persuasion and assesses citizens in China. International Journal of Communication.
  • Kim, Y., Chen, Y., & Liang, F. (R&R). The politics and practices of care in China and South Korea’s quarantine enforcement apps for COVID-19 response. New Media & Society.

Conference Presentations

  • The 70th International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference, 21-25 May 2020. Virtual Conference
  • The 5th International Conference on Computational Social Science, July 17-20, 2019. University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference, May 24-28, 2019. Washington, D.C.
  • The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Conference. August 6-9, 2018. Washington, D.C.
  • International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Annual Conference. June 20 - 24, 2018. University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference, May 24-28, 2018. Prague, the Czech Republic
  • The 16th Chinese Internet Research Conference. May 22-23, 2018. Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Digital Transformation in China – Recent Trends and Impacts. January 19, 2018. Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • Data Science Research Forum. December 1, 2017. Ann Arbor, MI
  • The 15th Chinese Internet Research Conference. June 5-6, 2017. Fort Worth, TX
  • Global Fusion Conference. October 13-14, 2017. Athens, OH
  • International Communication Association (ICA) Preconference, May 25, 2017. San Diego, CA
  • Science, Technology, and the Politics of Knowledge in Global Affairs, March 30-31, 2017. Northwestern University, Chicago, IL


Top Paper

  • Top Student Paper Award, International Communication Association (ICA), Political Communication Division (First author, 2021)
  • Top Student Paper Award, International Communication Association (ICA), Communication & Technology Division (Co-author, 2021)
  • Top Student Paper Award from International Communication Association (ICA) Public Diplomacy Interest Group (Solo author, 2018)
  • Top Student Paper Award from International Communication Association (ICA) Visual Communication Studies (First author, 2018)
  • Top Paper Award (second place), Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Communication Theory & Methodology Division (Co-author, 2018)

Academic Awards

  • Chevening Scholarship, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, £28,000 (2014)


  • International Institute Individual Fellowship, University of Michigan (2018)
  • Lieberthal-Rogel Travel and Research Fellowship, University of Michigan (2018)

Research and Travel Grants

  • Graduate Student Research Grant, the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, University of Michigan, $2,500 (2019)
  • Graduate Travel Scholarship, University of Michigan, $800 (2019)
  • American Council of Learned Societies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grant, $5,000 (2018)
  • Graduate Travel Scholarship, University of Michigan, $1,500 (2018)
  • Rackham Conference Travel Grant, University of Michigan, $1,000 (2018)
  • Conference Travel Grant, Freie Universität Berlin, €1,300 (2018)
  • Volkswagen Foundation for Computational Method Workshop, €700 (2018)
  • Rackham Conference Travel Grant, University of Michigan, $800 (2017)

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