Foundation Commits $50 Million to Study How Social Media, Tech Impacts Democracy
WASHINGTON – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Monday it is committing $50 million for research to better understand how social media and technology are impacting democracy.
The nonprofit foundation, which focuses on journalism and fostering “informed and engaged communities,” said in a release that the research effort is a response to growing concerns about what transpires in the now-digital public square.
In the wake of the manipulation of tech giants like Facebook and Twitter during the 2016 election, the research project at 11 universities and research institutions “will help ensure society is equipped to make evidence-based decisions on how to govern and manage these platforms.
“We’re living through the most profound change in how we communicate with each other since Gutenberg invented the printing press,” said Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen.
“The internet has changed our lives and is changing our democracy,” Ibargüen said. “We have to take a step back and a step forward. To understand what is actually happening, we need independent research and insights based on data, not emotion and invective. To go forward, citizens must be engaged, and including university communities in the debate is a step in that direction.”
In addition to delving into social media’s impact on election campaigns, the grants include projects on the spread of disinformation and how newsrooms can address polarization in society.
Eleven individual institutions will receive grants to pursue different avenues to understanding the future of democracy in the digital age.
In addition, Knight has opened a new funding opportunity for policy and legal research addressing major, ongoing debates about the rules that should govern social media and technology companies.
“Our democracy is at an inflection point. Technology is fundamentally changing our society, yet we are flying blind,” said Sam Gill, Knight vice president for communities and impact.
“There is a need for innovative approaches that recognize the complexity of these challenges by joining computational sciences, social sciences and the humanities. These resources are intended to spark collaborations that meet the urgent demand for new insights and ideas,” Gill said.
In The News
WASHINGTON - Mark Zuckerberg allowed himself only a brief smile Thursday afternoon as he approached the podium awaiting him on stage in Georgetown University's Gaston Hall. After weeks of criticism over Facebook's decision not to moderate political speech or fact-check political ads, the company's CEO was... Read More
WASHINGTON - The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday announced the sites, dates and qualification details for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate leading up to the 2020 general election. The sites and dates are as follows: · The first... Read More
WASHINGTON - A Defense Intelligence Agency employee from Alexandria, Virginia was arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly leaking classified information to his journalist girlfriend and a second journalist. Henry Kyle Frese, who is identified in court documents as a counterterrorism analyst, was arrested when he showed up... Read More
WASHINGTON - Fifty-four years after the U.S. Supreme Court heard its first case dealing with the televising and broadcasting of a trial, meaningful electronic coverage of federal courts remains an aspiration, this despite the exponential advances in technology to disseminate news and information. That was the... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission must redo and better justify an order that eased restrictions on media companies wanting to consolidate their holdings in a single market, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The highly anticipated ruling is a setback for companies... Read More
WASHINGTON — Cokie Roberts, who grew up immersed in politics and spent several decades in Washington covering it, died Tuesday of complications from breast cancer. She was 75. “Cokie’s career as a journalist at National Public Radio and ABC News took her to the heights of... Read More