Ravi Iyer ’96


As the managing director of the Psychology of Technology Institute (PTI) at USC’s Marshall School of Business’ Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making, Ravi Iyer ’96 is trying to improve technology’s impact on society. With a Ph.D. in social psychology from USC — in addition to his double major in political science and computer science from the College — Iyer is uniquely equipped to tackle difficult questions around technology and psychology. He is now using that expertise to try to create better tech solutions for how social media platforms approach divisive content.

Prior to his current position, Iyer spent four and a half years at Meta (formerly Facebook), where he led data science, research and product teams to improve the societal impact of algorithms on elections, polarization, hate speech, misinformation and harassment. The Sisyphean experience led to an epiphany: “I started in integrity work,” he says, “effectively, what’s known as content moderation. I worked on things like clickbait engagement, misinformation and hate speech.

“I realized I could remove all the hate speech in the world and not actually remove the divisiveness,” Iyer says. “You can remove the misinformation, but there are a lot of ways that people mislead without actually lying to you. And so I realized that content moderation was never going to be a scalable solution to those problems.”

That realization led him to advocate for design-based solutions, using technology to shape how users interact with and respond to content. In his role at PTI, which he began in October, Iyer crafts suggestions for making social media more effective and practical, aiming to create approaches to technology design that improve users’ online experiences and their overall well-being.

Anne-Ryan Sirju JRN’09