The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation introduced Wednesday that it was awarding $5.5 million in new grants to review quite a lot of points involving the intersection of expertise, media misinformation and democracy. According to Knight’s press launch, the funding will likely be used to “advance research of issues such as online content moderation, mis- and disinformation online, freedom of expression across digital platforms and liability for content posted online.”

The funding entails 4 totally different tranches, together with:

A $1.5 million aggressive name for analysis proposals that may inform efficient interventions to fight disinformation campaigns geared toward communities of coloration. Because these communities have been focused for what Knight phrases “racialized disinformation,” it’s searching for to fund analysis that explores methods to counteract such on-line manipulation.

Up to $175,000 will likely be awarded for chosen analysis initiatives, that are anticipated to be accomplished inside 18-24 months. The deadline for functions is Sept. 15. Knight is casting a broad web by searching for submissions from universities, analysis establishments, assume tanks, group nonprofits and information organizations. It particularly inspired functions from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving establishments, Asian-American and Pacific Islander-serving establishments, ethnic media organizations and early profession students. Projects chosen for funding will likely be introduced in early 2022.

Knight can also be committing $2 million to create a brand new, three-year “Rebooting Social Media” institute at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, an interdisciplinary unit that examines numerous our on-line world subjects. It will examine new methods of addressing disinformation, radicalization, and harassment occurring on social media. The new institute will likely be led by two Harvard college members: Professor Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and Professor of Computer Science, and James Mickens, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science. 

Knight will award $1 million to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a non-profit group primarily based in Washington, D.C. Sometimes known as “America’s Black think tank,” the middle focuses on insurance policies that may enhance the socioeconomic standing and civic engagement of African Americans.

Knight’s funding will likely be used to assist a brand new Technology Policy Program that may look at and develop coverage options to “ensure that Black communities are not harmed by—and have an opportunity to benefit from—emerging technologies.”

The Lincoln Network, a conservative coverage heart will even obtain $1 million from Knight. According to its mission statement, “the Lincoln Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2014 with a mission to help bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and DC. We believe in a world of free markets and free people, and that fostering a robust but responsible innovation ecosystem is crucial to creating a better, freer, and more abundant future.”

Knight’s funding will assist Lincoln Network’s through three elements:

  • Hosting convenings on key subjects in tech hubs just like the Bay Area, Austin, and Miami;
  • Growing the Network’s Policy Hackers fellowship that informs expertise professionals on numerous polity points;
  • Building a brand new coverage analysis initiative on the intersection of media, expertise, and the creator economic system.

Like the Berkman Klein Center and the Joint Center, the Lincoln Network has been a earlier recipient of Knight funding. Based on the outcomes of that prior assist, the brand new grants assist scale up the potential affect of the three organizations.

“Demand is only growing for fresh thinking about our democracy’s digital information challenges,” mentioned John Sands, Knight’s Director of Learning and Impact. “As more of our lives are lived online, independent research is increasingly needed to drive actionable insights and equitable solutions.”

In a cellphone interview with me, Sands added, “Solutions to the digital data challenges going through our democracy will solely come by means of an knowledgeable and inclusive public debate. We are assured that these solutions won’t inhere in anybody ideology or establishment. Rather than claiming to know the solutions, Knight’s method has been to useful resource contemporary normative pondering and a sturdy dialogue knowledgeable by sound, impartial analysis.”

These newest grants prolong the Knight Foundation’s funding in understanding the affect of expertise and digital media on democratic governance. Since 2019, Knight has provided $50 million for research and scholarship to discover a number of of the knowledge challenges society faces as we speak— from misinformation and the fast and unfiltered distribution of content material, to the proliferation of hate speech and politically motivated propaganda.


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