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University of Southern California

PhD, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 2018 (expected)

M.A., Communication, 2016

Master in Public Diplomacy, 2013

Dissertation Research Project: Do Ciphers Have Politics?: A Cultural History of Encryption Technologies, 1963-2013.

Dissertation Committee: Mike Ananny, Manuel Castells (Chair), Christina Dunbar-Hester, Chris Kelty

University of Virginia – May 2008
B.A. with distinction in Media Studies, Minor in Foreign Affairs

Institute on Political Journalism, Georgetown University – Summer 2007

Research Interests

History of media and technology, STS, digital activism, technology policy, cultural studies

Grants, Fellowships, and Awards

Top Student Paper Award, Media Industry Studies Interest Group, International Communication Association, 2017

Internet Policy Observatory Grant, University of Pennsylvania (with Nicolas Suzor and Jillian C. York), 2017

Wallis Annenberg Graduate Research Fellowship, 2014 –2017

Cybersecurity Fellow, New America Foundation, 2015 – 2017

Summer Educational Institute Fellowship, Summer 2016

Google Policy Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Summer 2015

Semester Grant, University of Southern California, Spring 2014

Annenberg Fellowship, 2013-2014

Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, 2012 – 2013

Travel Grant, University of Southern California, January 2013

Dean’s List, 2004-2008

Academic Publications

Peer Reviewed

Suzor, N., Van Geelen, T., and West, S.M. (forthcoming) Evaluating the Legitimacy of Platform Governance: A Review of Research and A Shared Research Agenda, International Communication Gazette.

West, S.M. (2017). Data Capitalism: Redefining the Logics of Surveillance and PrivacyBusiness and Society.

West, S.M. (2017). Searching for the Public in Internet Governance: An Examination of Infrastructures of Participation at NETmundial, Policy & Internet.

West, S.M. (2017). Raging Against the Machine: Collective Action on Social Media PlatformsMedia and Communication, 5(3).

West, S.M. (2014). Redefining Digital Diplomacy: Modeling Business Diplomacy by Internet Companies in China. Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 9(4): 334-355.

Non-Peer Reviewed

West, S.M. (2017). Survival of the Cryptic, Limn, 8.

Gasser, U., Budish, R. and West, S.M. Multistakeholder as Governance Groups: Observations from Case Studies. Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2015-1.

Book Reviews and Commentary

Forelle, M.C. and West, S.M. (forthcoming). Reaction to Seto, Y. and Lewis, S.P. “We tend to err on the side of caution”: Ethical Challenges facing Canadian Research Ethics Boards When Overseeing Internet Research, in Zimmer, M. & Kinder-Kurlanda, K., (Eds.) Internet Research Ethics in the Social Age. Bern: Peter Lang: Digital Formations.

West, S.M. (2015). Citizen Witnessing: Journalism in Times of Crisis, Media, War & Conflict, 7 (3).

West, S.M. (2013). Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace, International Journal of Communication.

Conference Papers and Presentations

Do Ciphers Have Politics? Discourses of the Digital Rights Movement in the Crypto Wars 2.0, Association of Internet Researchers Conference, October 2017.

“Cypherpunks Write Code”: Privacy, Crypto-Anarchy and the Interpretative Flexibility of Encryption, Society for the Social Studies of Science, August 2017.

Policing the Digital Semicommons: Researching Content Moderation Practices by Social Media Companies, International Communication Association, May 2017, Top Student Paper: Media Industry Studies Research Group.

What Should I Be Worried About?: Explaining Information Security and Privacy Concerns to Students, Researchers, and University Faculty, Annenberg Symposium, April 2016.

Ambivalence in the (Private) Public Sphere: How Global Digital Activists Navigate Risk, Association of Internet Researchers Conference, October 2016

Censorship Online, and the Challenges of Studying What’s No Longer There (Roundtable), with Tarleton Gillespie, Sarah Roberts, Jose van Dijck and Jillian York, Association of Internet Researchers Conference, October 2016

Data Capitalism: Redefining the Logics of Surveillance and Privacy, International Communication Association, Communication and Technology Doctoral Consortium, June 2016

Searching for the Public in Internet Governance: An Examination of Infrastructures of Participation at NETmundialPower, Communication and Technology in Internet Governance, ICA Pre-conference, June 2016

Trap Doors and Invisible Shields: Terms of Service as Objects in Cross-Boundary Exchange, by Sarah Myers West, Christina Hagen and Michelle C. Forelle, Annenberg Symposium, April 2016

Building the Islamic State through Twitter: ISIS Themes and Metanarratives, by Patricia Riley, Christina Hagen, Laura Alberti, Theo Mazumdar, Rong Wang, Kristen Guth, Mark Hannah, Nathalie Marechal, Sarah Myers West, Nicholas Busalacchi and Matt Pascarella. National Communication Association, November 2015

Crypto and the Academy (Fishbowl), with Michelle C. Forelle and Nathalie Marechal, Association of Internet Researchers Conference, October 2015

Commerce and Ambivalence at the Digital Protest Line, WUN Global Digital Cultures Conference, April 2015

Breakage and Repair in Internet Governance Institutions: Examining Public Debate at NetMundial, International Studies Association, February 2015

Globalizing Internet Governance: Negotiating Cyberspace Agreements in the Post-Snowden Era, TPRC 42, September 2014

A Narrative, Ecological Approach to International Political Communication Research, by B. Theo Mazumdar, Yasuhito Abe, Sarah Myers and Andrea Wenzel, 2014 International Communication Association Qualitative Political Communication Research Pre-Conference, May 2014

Redefining Digital Diplomacy – Modeling Corporate Diplomacy by Internet Companies in China, presented at Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael November 30, 2012

Mediating the Press in Global Conflicts: A Framing Study of the 2008 Olympic Protests selected for 19th Asian Media Information and Communication Annual Conference

Invited Talks

“Surveillance, Censorship & Human Rights Online” – Mar. 2017

Decoding the Digital Debate, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, March 31, 2017

“Know Your Rights: Government Surveillance and Digital Security 101” – Feb. and Mar. 2017

UCLA Undercommons and RAVE, USC American Studies and Ethnicity Program, USC Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, San Bernardino Community College

Plenary Session on the Evolution of Internet Governance – July 2014

Invited Talk, Internet Governance Forum-USA

Teaching Experience


Communication and Culture, Summer 2017

Teaching Assistant, Contours of Change in Media and Communication

Teaching Assistant, Communication and Culture, Spring 2017

Teaching Assistant, Communication and Technology, Spring 2016

Graduate Student Mentor, International Policy Task Force, Spring 2012

Guest Lectures
“Data Capitalism” – Media, Money & Society, Oct. 2017

“Privacy and Surveillance” – Communication and Technology, Apr., Jun., Oct. 2017

“Cultures of Surveillance” – Communication and Culture, Apr. 2017

“Hacktivism and Online Resistance: Case Studies of Networked Protest” – Communication and Technology, Apr. 2016

“Legal and Moral Issues Surrounding Digital Diplomacy” – Technology Diplomacy, Apr. 2015

“Disconnecting the Networked Press: Encryption and Online Journalism” – Perspectives on the Networked Press, Mar. 2015

Memberships and Affiliations

Affiliate Researcher, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Cybersecurity Fellow, New America Foundation

Managing Editor, Netizen Report, Global Voices Advocacy

Association of Internet Researchers

Society for Social Studies of Science

International Communication Association

National Communication Association