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
Senior Managing Editor
Robert Faris, PhD
Fellows and Contributing Researchers
Marya Mtshali, PhD
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.
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.
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
- Joan Donovan’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law: Algorithms and Amplification: How Social Media Platforms’ Design Choices Shape Our Discourse and Our Minds
- How a racialized disinformation campaign ties itself to The 1619 Project Brandi Collins-Dexter and Joan Donovan, Columbia Journalism Review
- Joan Donovan – ‘Do we care as much as they do?’ Extremely Podcast
- Dr. Joan Donovan on ‘media manipulation,’ the meme wars, and how disinformation hijacks free expression CNN, Reliable Sources with Brain Stelter
- Inside QAnon CNN, Smerconish: “
- Why Congress Should Look at Twitter and Facebook MIT Technology Review
- Vaccines Stop Diseases Safely — Why All the Suspicion? Nature
- You Purged Racists from Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work Wired
- Protest Misinformation Is Riding on the Success of Pandemic Hoaxes MIT Technology Review
- Covid Hoaxes Are Using a Loophole to Stay Alive—Even after Content Is Deleted MIT Technology Review
- Three Ways To Counter Authoritarian Overreach During the Coronavirus Pandemic Nieman Reports
- The Platform Is the Problem Centre for International Governance Innovation
- Vote and Die: Covering Voter Suppression during the Coronavirus Pandemic Nieman Reports
- Here’s how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’ MIT Technology Review
- Weaponizing the Digital Influence Machine Data & Society
- Source Hacking: Media Manipulation in Practice Data & Society
- First They Came for the Black Feminists New York Times
- How memes got weaponized: A short history MIT Technology Review