Jonathan Bright is a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute who specialises in computational approaches to the social and political sciences. He has two major research interests: exploring the ways in which new digital technologies are changing political participation; and investigating how new forms of data can enable local and national governments to make better decisions.

Areas of Interest for Doctoral Supervision

Big data, democracy, governance, government, journalism, open data, political participation, public management, public policy, security, social media, social networks, surveillance

Research interests

social media, news, political behaviour, computational social science, big data

Positions held at the OII

  • Senior Research Fellow, November 2017 – present
  • Research Fellow, 2013 – 2017

Students supervised at the OII

Current Students

Past students


Current projects

Past projects

  • VOX-Pol Network of Excellence

    Participants: Dr Jonathan Bright, Dr Bharath Ganesh

    The VOX-Pol research project is designed to comprehensively research, analyse, debate, and critique issues surrounding violent online political extremism (VOPE).

  • TRANSNET: Forecasting and understanding transport network resilience and anomalies

    Participants: Dr Scott A. Hale, Dr Jonathan Bright, Dr Graham McNeill, Chico Camargo

    This project seeks to utilise newly available data to help urban policy makers improve transport infrastructure to cope with growing and increasingly mobile populations.

  • Data Science in Local Government

    Participants: Dr Jonathan Bright, Dr Bharath Ganesh

    Data science in local government uses novel techniques to make government more efficient in targeting resources. This project aims to explain the spread of data science methods in the local government context and to understand their impact.

  • NEXUS: Real Time Data Fusion and Network Analysis for Urban Systems

    Participants: Dr Scott A. Hale, Dr Jonathan Bright, Dr Graham McNeill

    Mining human mobility and migration patterns from social media and industry data sources as well as visualizing geo-temporal network data interactively with HTML5.

  • Open Data and Civic Engagement: Mechanisms for the Promotion of Political Participation

    Participants: Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, Dr Ning Wang, Dr Jonathan Bright

    How effective are open data initiatives in encouraging civic engagement in policy-relevant domains?

  • Political Knowledge and the Web

    Participants: Dr Jonathan Bright

    Information is key for citizens to play their role in the democratic systems. Citizens need information to define their preferences and evaluate the activity of governments and parliaments.

  • Urban Data 2 Decide

    Participants: Dr Stefano De Sabbata, Dr Jonathan Bright, Dr Bharath Ganesh

    Urban decision makers are nowadays faced with both unprecedented challenges as well as new opportunities as the environment around them grows ever more complex.

  • Big data and election prediction: analysing online information seeking during the European Parliament elections

    Participants: Dr Taha Yasseri, Dr Jonathan Bright, Eve Ahearn

    This project investigates the extent to which the characteristics of different political systems (for example, the number of major political parties) affect patterns of online information seeking behaviour which take place during election time.

  • Elections and the Internet

    Participants: Professor Helen Margetts, Dr Scott A. Hale, Dr Jonathan Bright

    This site collects elections research at the OII. We are interested in exploring the extent to which data from the social web can be used to predict interesting social and political phenomena, especially elections.

  • Big Data: Demonstrating the Value of the UK Web Domain Dataset for Social Science Research

    Participants: Professor Helen Margetts, Professor Eric T. Meyer, Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, Dr Scott A. Hale, Tom Nicholls, Dr Taha Yasseri, Dr Jonathan Bright

    This project aims to enhance JISC's UK Web Domain archive, a 30 TB archive of the .uk country-code top level domain collected from 1996 to 2010. It will extract link graphs from the data and disseminate social science research using the collection.

Conference papers

  • Camargo, C.Q., Bright, J., McNeill, G., Raman, S. and Hale, S.A. (2020) "Estimating Traffic Disruption Patterns with Volunteered Geographic Information", Scientific Reports. England. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 10 (1) 252.
  • Vogl, T., Seidelin, C., Ganesh, B. and Bright, J. (2019) "Algorithmic Bureaucracy", 20th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research on - dg.o 2019. 20th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, 18 – 20 June 2019. ACM Press. 148-153.
  • Hale, S., McNeill, G. and Bright, J. (2017) "Where’d it go? How geographic and force-directed layouts affect network task performance", EuroVis Workshop on Reproducibility, Verification, and Validation in Visualization (EuroRV3). EuroVis Workshop on Reproducibility, Verification, and Validation in Visualization (EuroRV3), Barcelona, Spain. Eurographics Association.
  • Bright, J.M. and Voigt, C. (2016) "The Lightweight Smart City and Biases in Repurposed Big Data", Second International Conference on Human and Social Analytics. The Second International Conference on Human and Social Analytics. International Academy Research and Industry Association.

Journal articles


  • Gagliardone, I., Pohjonen, M., Beyene, Z., Zerai, A., Aynekulu, G., Bekalu, M., Bright, J., Moges, M.A., Seifu, M., Stremlau, N., Taflan, P., Gebrewolde, T.M. and Teferra, Z. (2016) "Mechachal: Online Debates and Elections in Ethiopia - From Hate Speech to Engagement in Social Media" In: Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy. Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy.
  • Bright, J., Margetts, H.Z., Wang, N. and Hale, S.A. (2015) Explaining Usage Patterns in Open Government Data: The Case of Data.Gov.UK.
  • Bright, J.M., Margetts, H., Hale, S. and Yasseri, T. (2014) "The use of social media for research and analysis: a feasibility study" In: Report of research carried out by the Oxford Internet Institute on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. Department for Work and Pensions.


  • Accessing Research Data from the Social Web

    This course teaches the essentials of programming in Python, the language of choice in the growing field of computational social science.

  • Digital Era Government and Politics

    This option course will approach the study of government and politics through the lens of data science.

  • Digital Era Government and Politics

    This option course will approach the study of government and politics through the lens of data science.

  • Digital Social Research: Statistics Core

    This course introduces students to statistics for the social sciences, with an emphasis on application to research on the Internet and society.

  • Simulating Society

    This course is about agent-based modelling, a fascinating technique for answering social science questions, based on computer simulation of real-world societies and real-world human events.


  • Transnet: Understanding traffic with open data and visualization

    Recorded: 26 July 2018

    Duration: 00:42:30

    This presentation, hosted by the Alan Turing Institute focuses on using crowd-sourced data, such as OpenStreetMap and Waze, to improve traffic models and better understand the factors contributing to traffic jams and other traffic issues.

  • Accessing Research Data from the Social Web: OII MSc Methods Option Course

    Recorded: 16 July 2015

    Duration: 00:02:46

    In the space of a few years data sourced from the "social web" (platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google) has come to occupy an important place in social science research.

  • Digital Era Government and Politics: OII MSc Option Course

    Recorded: 12 July 2015

    Duration: 00:03:19

    This option course for the OII MSc in "Social Science of the Internet" examines the impact of the Internet and related technologies on the core activities and institutions of government and politics

  • Does Social Media Use Change the Type of News We Receive?

    Recorded: 8 November 2013

    Duration: 00:20:46

    Jonathan Bright explores the impact of social media on news consumption. He examines how social media users choose what to share, how this varies by platform, and what the implications may be for the type of news coverage that people receive.





  • QAnon goes European

    23 October 2020 Politico

    Populists, protesters, conspiracy theorists: How Europe is embracing America’s latest export.

  • Biden article row shows how US election is testing Facebook and Twitter

    15 October 2020 The Guardian

    Mere hours after the publication of a controversial New York Post article critical of Joe Biden, both Twitter and Facebook took unprecedented action to restrict distribution of the post.

  • Silicon Valley’s battle to limit US election chaos

    9 October 2020 The Telegraph

    With American democracy under threat, are the companies doing enough?

  • Facebook is hampering efforts to crack down on Covid-19 fake videos

    21 September 2020 The Telegraph

    YouTube had improved its algorithm to promote credible sources, but videos were still going viral elsewhere.

  • Distorted Chinese, Russian virus news takes root in West – study

    29 June 2020 Rappler

    Whether it's distorted coverage or conspiracy theories, articles written in French and German by foreign state media are resonating widely on Facebook and Twitter, often with their origins unclear, the Oxford Internet Institute says

  • UK government watchdog examining political use of data analytics

    18 May 2017 New Scientist

    Social media has had a large impact on the transparency of political campaigns, says Jonathan Bright of the Oxford Internet Institute.

  • Europe Enters Election Season in the Post-Poll World

    18 November 2016 Bloomberg

    Taha Yasseri and Jonathan Bright's paper on predicting the outcomes of European Parliament elections using Wikipedia page traffic is quoted in a piece on Europe's upcoming election season.

  • Can Google predict who will win the election?

    16 October 2015 Maclean's

    In an article about predicting election results the major Canadian news magazine quotes a research study by Taha Yasseri and Jonathan Bright on whether electoral popularity can be predicted using socially generated big data.

  • Ascertaining ‘what the readers want’

    8 September 2015 The Hindu

    A long article on digital journalism quotes research by Jonathan Bright and Tom Nicholls which found that the most read articles were the most likely to stay on the front page longer.

  • It’s the smart way to travel

    31 August 2015 Oxford Mail

    Jonathan Bright told the local press about plans for Oxford to use mobile phone data to learn about traffic patterns. This is part of an initiative to turn Oxford into a 'Smart City' using big data to improve the lives of its citizens.

  • Google’s search algorithm could steal the Presidency

    6 August 2015 Wired

    The algorithms that rank search results could seriously affect a close-run presidential election by influencing the way that people vote. Jonathan Bright points out that it's not possible to have a completely neutral algorithm.

  • Why do we argue online?

    24 July 2015 The Irish Times

    Jonathan Bright is quoted in an article in the Irish Times which looks at the proliferation of online arguments between strangers. He says that there was a 'false hope in the '90s that [the internet] would open a new style of democracy.'

  • QR codes used on ballot paper for the first time

    15 May 2014 BBC Oxford

    For the first time in the UK a QR code has been incorporated in a political party’s official emblem on the ballot paper. Jonathan Bright says that if this becomes more commonplace the Electoral Commission would have questions.

Integrity Statement

In the past five years my work has been financially supported by UK taxpayers, the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, the John Fell Fund, the Luminate Group, Innovate UK, NERC, the Wiener-Anspach Foundation, ERA-NET Joint Programming Initiative (European Commission), the EC 7th Framework Programme, the Lloyds Register Foundation (Alan Turing Institute), the Department for Work and Pensions and Google. In that time I have also worked as a consultant for Facebook, DFID and the ICO, and given paid lectures on the Oxford Study Abroad programme and the FCO Indian Leadership Programme.