Fake News, Concrete Responses: At the Nexus of Law, Technology, and Social Narratives
A special Harvard Law School-Berkman Klein Center panel moderated Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School
Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Join panelists Sandra Cortesi, Nathan Matias, An Xiao Mina, and Jonathan Zittrain with moderation by Martha Minow.
The propagation of misinformation, “fake news,” or propaganda has sparked much investigation into its causes and a thorough mapping of the surrounding problem space. Solutions, however, have been in short supply. The human predilection towards conspiratorial thinking, the “stickiness” of rumors, and the largely ineffective efforts to educate or debunk due to the fact that repetition engenders familiarity and confidence in accuracy, which ultimately foment more extreme views, indicate that a purely technological “silver bullet” solution is unlikely.
Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are pleased to convene a lunch panel that draws from our interdisciplinary ecosystem of experts to discuss the ways in which we might craft tools and solutions at the nexus of law, technology, and the social sciences. Panelists will explore issues such as the normative roles of platforms in the dissemination of “fake news,” the role of law in regulating or influencing policies and practices to mitigate this phenomenon, and tools that may chip away at certain challenges within the broader context of problems within the media ecosystem and broader trends in digital media.
About Dean Minow
Martha Minow, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, where her courses include civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education, nonprofit organizations, and the public law workshop. An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict.
Besides her many scholarly articles published in journals of law, history, and philosophy, her books include The First Global Prosecutor: Promise and Constraints (co-edited, 2015); In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Constitutional Landmark(2010); Government by Contract (co-edited, 2009); Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference (co-edited, 2008); Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law and Repair (edited by Nancy Rosenblum with commentary by other authors, 2003); Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good (2002); Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies (co-edited 2002); Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence(1998); Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics and Law (1997); Law Stories (co-edited 1996); Narrative, Violence and the Law: The Essays of Robert M. Cover (co-edited 1992); and Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law (1990). She is the co-editor of two law school casebooks, Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice and Context (3rd. edition 2008) and Women and the Law (4th edition 2007), and a reader, Family Matters: Readings in Family Lives and the Law (1993).
Minow serves on the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Countering Violent Extremism. She served on the Independent International Commission Kosovo and helped to launch Imagine Co-existence, a program of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, to promote peaceful development in post-conflict societies. Her five-year partnership with the federal Department of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology worked to increase access to the curriculum for students with disabilities and resulted in both legislative initiatives and a voluntary national standard opening access to curricular materials for individuals with disabilities. Her honors include: the Sargent Shriver Equal Justice Award (2016), Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, Brandeis University (2016); nine honorary degrees (in law, education, and humane letters) from schools on three continents; the Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse, awarded by the College Historical Society of Trinity College, Dublin, in recognition of efforts to promote discourse and intellectualism on a world stage; the Holocaust Center Award; and the Sacks-Freund Teaching Award, awarded by the Harvard Law School graduating class.
In August 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Minow to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment on March 19, 2010 and she now serves as Vice-Chair. She co-chaired its Pro Bono Task Force. She also served as the inaugural chair of the Deans Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and as a member of the American Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission. She previously chaired the board of directors for the Revson Foundation (New York) and now serves on the boards of the MacArthur Foundation and other nonprofit organizations. She is a former member of the board of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center, and former chair of the Scholar’s Board of Facing History and Ourselves. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1992, Minow has also been a senior fellow of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, a member of Harvard University Press Board of Syndics, a senior fellow and twice acting director of what is now Harvard’s Safra Foundation Center on Ethics, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. She has delivered more than 70 named or endowed lectures and keynote addresses, including most recently the 2016 George W. Gay Lecture at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics.
Minow co-chaired the Law School’s curricular reform committee from 2003 to 2006, an effort that led to significant innovation in the first-year curriculum as well as new programs of study for second- and third-year J.D. students.
After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Minow received a master’s degree in education from Harvard and her law degree from Yale. She clerked for Judge David Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States. She joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, was promoted to professor in 1986, was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law in 2003, became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005, and became the inaugural Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor in 2013. She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her husband, Joseph W. Singer, is the Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and their daughter, Mira Singer, is a writer and artist. Minow enjoys watching and discussing movies and keeping in touch with current and former students.
About Sandra Cortesi
Sandra Cortesi is a Fellow at the Berkman Center and the Director of Youth and Media. She is responsible for coordinating the Youth and Media’s policy, research, and educational initiatives, and is leading the collaboration between the Berkman Center and UNICEF. At Youth and Media Sandra works closely with talented young people and lead researchers in the field as they look into innovative ways to approach social challenges in the digital world. Together with Berkman Center’s Executive Director Urs Gasser and the Youth and Media team, she focuses on topics such as inequitable access, information quality, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, and spaces for participation, civic engagement, and innovation.
See publications here.
Sandra supports the following Berkman projects and initiatives: Youth and Media, Student Privacy Initiative, Digital Problem-Solving Initiative, and Coding for All.
About Nathan Matias
Nathan Matias, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, designs and researches civic technologies for cooperation across diversity. At the Berkman Center, he will be applying data analysis and design to the topics of peer-based social technologies, creative learning, civic engagement, journalism, gender diversity, and creative learning.
At Texperts, Nathan was on the startup team that scaled microwork systems to reach customers and workers on four continents. At SwiftKey, he helped develop one of the premier text entry systems for mobile, currently used by millions of people. At Microsoft Fuse Labs, he developed novel systems for collaborative neighborhood journalism. Nathan was also the founding Chief Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Stories, a creative writing center in London.
Nathan regularly liveblogs talks and events. He also publishes data journalism with the Guardian Datablog and PBS IdeaLab. He also facilitates #1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club, and frequently hosts live Twitter Q&As with prominent writers. He coordinated the Media Lab Festival of Learning in 2012 and 2013.
Before MIT, Nathan completed an MA in English literature at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Davies Jackson scholar and wrote two theses on African literature and the psychology of interactive fiction. In earlier years, he was Riddick Scholar and Hugh Cannon Memorial Scholar at the American Institute of Parliamentarians. He won the Ted Nelson award at ACM Hypertext 2005 with a work of tangible scholarly hypermedia. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Manufacturing in 2013.
About An Xiao Mina
An Xiao Mina is a technologist and writer who looks at issues of the global internet and networked creativity. As a Berkman Klein Fellow, she has been studying the impact of language barriers in our technology stack as the internet extends into diverse communities around the world, and she is building on her ongoing research on global internet meme culture and its role in politics and culture.
Mina serves as director of product at Meedan, who are building Check, a platform for collaborative verification of digital media. Check has been used by organizations like ProPublica, First Draft News, Amnesty International and the University of Hong Kong to verify, analyze and debunk content on online videos, social media reports and private messaging apps. The tool played a key role in Electionland, a 600-person project that covered access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election. Meedan is also a founding member of First Draft News, an organization dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information that emerges online.
She has spoken at venues like the Personal Democracy Forum, ACM SIGCHI, Creative Mornings, the Aspen Institute, the International Journalism Festival, RightsCon and the Institute for the Future, and she has contributed writing to publications like the Los Angeles Review of Books, Fusion, the New Inquiry, Nieman Journalism Lab, the Atlantic and others.
Recently a 2016 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow, where she studied online language barriers and their impact on journalism, Mina is currently working on a book about internet memes and global social movements titled “From Memes to Movements,” publishing in 2018 with Beacon Press.
About Jonathan Zittrain
Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.
He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia, and as part of the OpenNet Initiative co-edited a series of studies of Internet filtering by national governments: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering; Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace; and Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberspace.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Board of Advisors for Scientific American. He has served as a Trustee of the Internet Society and as a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum, which named him a Young Global Leader. He was a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Federal Communications Commission, and previously chaired the FCC’s Open Internet Advisory Committee. His book The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It predicted the end of general purpose client computing and the corresponding rise of new gatekeepers. That and other works may be found at <http://www.jz.org>.
Photo provided by [Josh Koonce]