Shorenstein Center receives $1 million in support of project on media manipulation

September 16, 2020

The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School has received a $1 million gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies in support of the ongoing work of the Technology and Social Change Research Project.

The project aims to understand how media manipulation is a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. Through the project, scholars and experts conduct research, develop methods, and facilitate workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. One such effort is an online “casebook” on media manipulation, currently in development.

“These resources help us scale our efforts to analyze media manipulation campaigns and conduct path-breaking research during this critical time in our nation’s history,” says Nancy Gibbs, the Lombard Director of the Shorenstein Center and Visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics and Public Policy. “The Media Manipulation Casebook is a critical resource for understanding the extent of media manipulation, and will be a useful guide as we continue to keep our focus on democracy and political manipulation, while also publishing timely research on COVID-19 and the infodemic.”

“We need to defend our country and elections from bad actors, foreign and domestic, who seek to destabilize us via disinformation,” says Craig Newmark. “The Shorenstein Center helps counter those attacks by explaining the nature of disinformation and suggesting means to neutralize it.”

The Technology and Social Change Project is led by Dr. Joan Donovan, research director for the Shorenstein Center and adjunct lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School. Among the project’s initiatives is the creation of an online research platform, the Media Manipulation Casebook, which will include 100 case studies to advance shared knowledge about how misinformation travels across the web and platforms.