thinkers50 award winner

Sinan Aral

Forensically and persuasively gets to the reality inside social media and tech.

01. ranked thinker

Ranked in 2021.

02. award winner

Winner of the Thinkers50 2021 Digital Thinking Award.


03. fast fact

In 2014, was named one of the “World’s Top 40 Business School Professors Under 40”.


Drawing on two decades of research and business experience, Aral goes under the hood of the biggest, most powerful social networks to tackle the critical question of just how much social media actually shapes our choices, for better or worse. Aral shows how the tech behind social media offers the same set of behaviour-influencing levers to both Russian hackers and brand marketers—to everyone who hopes to change the way we think and act—which is why its consequences affect everything from elections to business, dating to health. Along the way, he covers a wide array of topics, including how network effects fuel Twitter’s and Facebook’s massive growth to the neuroscience of how social media affects our brains, the real impact of fake news, the power of social ratings, and the effect of social media on our kids.


Sinan Aral is the David Austin Professor of Management, IT, Marketing and Data Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and a founding partner at Manifest Capital. He was the Chief Scientist at SocialAmp, one of the first social commerce analytics companies and at Humin, a social platform. He is currently on the Advisory Boards of the Alan Turing Institute, the British National Institute for Data Science in London, the Centre for Responsible Media Technology and Innovation in Bergen, Norway and C6 Bank, one of the first all-digital banks of Brazil. He was the Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Times in 2013.


In 2018, published highly influential article on the “Spread of False News Online,” which was on the cover of Science. Also author of The Hype Machine (2021), about how social media is disrupting our elections, our economies and our lives. The book offers an insider’s tour of how social media affects our decision-making and shapes our world in ways both useful and dangerous, with critical ideas on how to protect ourselves.



“Few can match Sinan Aral’s combination of research and original insight into the world of tech.

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50