Tero Karppi

Tero Karppi
Monday, November 26, 2018 - 6:44am

POSITION: Assistant Professor, Tenure Stream

ACADEMIC UNIT: Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology (ICCIT)

PLACE OF BIRTH: Hämeenlinna, Finland


“I look at how [Facebook] keeps users engaged and how it appeals to their emotions and affect.”

Tero Karppi is interested in the influential role that media play in everyday lives – especially the aspects of power and control.  His first book, Disconnect: Facebook’s Affective Bonds, published in October 2018, examines what happens when the connection between users and media is in danger of breaking, and how social media companies deal with this threat.

“In the book, I look at how the company keeps users engaged and how it appeals to their emotions and affect,” says Karppi. “As exemplified by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, people are becoming more aware of what happens behind the scenes of social media, but they still keep on using these platforms.”

Karppi’s most recent research more broadly examines how technology companies conceptualize the end users in their patents. “Patents are an interesting resource,” he says. “Even if they are not implemented in practice, they tell a story of how end users are seen, modelled and conceptualized by these companies.”

Originally from Finland, Karppi joined UTM after teaching at the University at Buffalo. He also completed a research internship at Microsoft Research. “It’s good to be close to where people design the products I study,” he notes.

“I like the interdisciplinary research focus at ICCIT; it’s flexible and it’s the way I was trained,” he says. “In addition, media studies students in Finland learn about Marshall McLuhan from day one, so it’s interesting to be at the University of Toronto where his thinking took place.”

He feels fortunate that he is able to use his research as an example in teaching courses about technology, social media and media theory. “Teaching is a pretty natural part of my thinking process,” he says. “It helps me process ideas and it’s an interesting part of the job.”


Selected Publications:

Tero Karppi, Disconnect: Facebook’s Affective Bonds (University of Minnesota Press: 2018)

Tero Karppi, “The Computer Said So” On the Ethics, Effectiveness, and Cultural Techniques of Predictive Policing,” Social Media + Society 2018, Volume 4, Issue 2, 1-9.

Tero Karppi, Marc Böhlen and Yvette Granata, “Killer Robots as Cultural Techniques,” International Journal of Cultural Studies, published online before print October 6, 2016

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