Technology & Social Change

The Technology and Social Change Project was active at the Shorenstein Center from 2019-2023. This page is an archive of the project’s work and team as of September 2023.


Led by Dr. Joan Donovan (@BostonJoan), The Technology and Social Change Project (TaSC) explored media manipulation as a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. TaSC conducted research, developed methods, and facilitated workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. 


The following people were involved in the TaSC project as of August 2023. Additional staff, fellows, and researchers participated in the project at other times in its history. 

Joan Donovan, PhD (Principal Investigator)
Research Director, Shorenstein Center
Director, Technology and Social Change Project

Latanya Sweeney, PhD (Co-PI)
Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology

Brandi Collins-Dexter
Associate Director

Emily Dreyfuss
Senior Managing Editor

Robert Faris, PhD
Senior Researcher

Brian Friedberg
Senior Researcher

Megan O’Neil
Project Manager

Fellows and Contributing Researchers

Marya Mtshali, PhD
Postdoc Fellow

Jennifer Nilsen
Research Fellow

Eesha Ramanujam
Research Fellow

Research Assistants

Daniel Baymiller
Talia Berniker

TaSC Team Projects

The Media Manipulation Casebook is a digital research platform linking together theory, methods, and practice for mapping media manipulation and disinformation campaigns. This resource is intended for researchers, journalists, technologists, policymakers, educators, and civil society organizers who want to learn about detecting, documenting, describing, and debunking misinformation.

True Costs of Misinformation
What are the financial, social, and human costs of misinformation? What is the price that businesses, hospitals, civil society groups, and schools pay for false or misleading information online? How can researchers support public officials and especially the communities targeted by disinformation campaigns when costing out “fake news funds” and building capacity for digital resilience? Can we put a price tag on misinformation, and if so, how, and who is responsible for paying it? 

Race, Media & Tech
The impacts of technology and mis-and disinformation in communities of color is under-researched and often misunderstood. Led by Joan Donovan and Brandi Collins-Dexter, the research focus investigated racialized disinformation and how it mobilizes white supremacists’ violence, disrupts the advocacy of civil society organizations, and saps the public’s ability to discern truth from disinformation. 

News Leaders Summit
The first iteration of the Shorenstein Center News Leaders program brought together small cohorts of press leaders to tackle the problem of misinformation-at-scale and media manipulation. Over the course of a semester, the News Leaders worked with one another, and with Shorenstein Center faculty and staff, including Director Nancy Gibbs, Research Director Dr. Joan Donovan, Dr. Rob Faris, and journalist Emily Dreyfuss, to develop procedures and protocols to handle this threat to the media ecosystem and the functioning of democracy. Click here to learn more about the current News Leaders program.

BIG, If True was a webinar series, hosted by Dr. Joan Donovan and presented by the Technology and Social Change Research Project. Listen to past webinars.

Political Pandemonium 2020 was a series of three digital workshops, hosted by Dr. Joan Donovan and the Technology and Social Change Project, exploring the harmful effects of media manipulation on our society.

Research Papers

Mitigating Medical Misinformation: A Whole-of-Society Approach to Countering Spam, Scams, and Hoaxes by Joan Donovan, PhD, Brian Friedberg, Gabrielle Lim, Nicole Leaver, Jennifer Nilsen, and Emily Dreyfuss

Canaries in the Coal Mine: COVID-19 Misinformation and Black Communities by Brandi Collins-Dexter

Space Invaders: The Networked Terrain of Zoom Bombing by Brian Friedberg, Gabrielle Lim, and Joan Donovan

In the News and Writings