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Yochai Benkler

Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, Harvard Law School; Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Yochai Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Since the 1990s he has played a role in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society. His books include Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics (Oxford University Press 2018) and The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom (Yale University Press 2006), which won academic awards from the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, and the McGannon award for social and ethical relevance in communications. In 2012 he received a lifetime achievement award from Oxford University “in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the study and public understanding of the Internet and information goods.” 

His work is socially engaged, winning him the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award in 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award for 2007, and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award in 2006. It is also anchored in the realities of markets, and was cited as "perhaps the best work yet about the fast moving, enthusiast-driven Internet" by the Financial Times and named best business book about the future in 2006 by Strategy and Business. Benkler has advised governments and international organizations on innovation policy and telecommunications, and serves on the boards or advisory boards of several nonprofits engaged in working towards an open society. 

His work can be freely accessed at benkler.org


Projects & Tools

AI: Media and Information Quality

As autonomous systems play an increasing role in selecting the content we see online, questions arise about AI's influence on human judgment, opinions, and perceptions. More

Cooperation

The Cooperation Group is an interdisciplinary community of scholars studying networked cooperation. Our current activities include a series of empirical research projects on… More

Public Discourse in the U.S. 2020 Election

Studying digital media ecosystems and political discourse related to the U.S. presidential election More

Media Cloud

Media Cloud is an open source, open data platform that allows researchers to answer complex quantitative and qualitative questions about the content of online media. More

Broadband

Since submitting its Next Generation Connectivity report to the FCC's National Broadband Plan committee, the Berkman Center has continued its research on broadband policy. More

Broadband Review

The Berkman Center conducted an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world, in order to help inform the… More

Past

Internet Law Program (iLaw)

Taught by world-renowned experts in the field, the Berkman Klein Center’s Internet Law Program addresses the most pressing cyberlaw issues being debated by lawmakers in the U.S… More

Law Lab

The Law Lab is a multidisciplinary research initiative and collaborative network of University, nonprofit and industry partners. Its mission is to investigate and harness the… More


Publications

Publication
Oct 29, 2020

Polarization and the Pandemic: American Political Discourse

Public Discourse in the U.S. 2020 Election: March - May

Tracking political discourse in the U.S. for March, April, and May of 2020 More

Oct 22, 2020

Partisanship, Impeachment, and the Democratic Primaries: American Political Discourse

Public Discourse in the U.S. 2020 Election: January and February

Tracking political discourse in the U.S. for January and February of 2020 More

Publication
Oct 1, 2020

Mail-In Voter Fraud: Anatomy of a Disinformation Campaign

Working paper shows Disinformation Campaign Surrounding the Risk of Voter Fraud Associated with Mail-in Ballots Follows an Elite-Driven, Mass Media Model; Social Media Plays a Secondary Role in 2020

Working paper explores disinformation campaign about mail-in voter fraud More

Publication
Oct 15, 2018

Network Propaganda

Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics

The most comprehensive study yet published on media coverage of American presidential politics from April 2015 to the one year anniversary of the Trump presidency More

Publication
Aug 16, 2017

Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. More

Publication
Feb 10, 2015

Score Another One for the Internet? The Role of the Networked Public Sphere in the U.S. Net Neutrality Policy Debate

A new paper from the Media Cloud team concludes that a diverse set of actors working in conjunction through the networked public sphere played a central, arguably decisive, role… More

Publication
Jul 25, 2013

Social Mobilization and the Networked Public Sphere: Mapping the SOPA-PIPA Debate

This paper uses a new set of online research tools to develop a detailed study of the public debate over proposed legislation in the United States designed to give prosecutors and… More

Publication
Nov 6, 2012

Open Wireless vs. Licensed Spectrum: Evidence from Market Adoption

The paper reviews evidence from eight wireless markets: mobile broadband; wireless healthcare; smart grid communications; inventory management; access control; mobile payments;… More

Publication
Aug 9, 2011

The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest

Yochai Benkler draws on cutting-edge findings from neuroscience, economics, sociology, evolutionary biology, political science, and a wealth of real world examples to reveal how… More

Publication
Apr 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right

This paper compares the practices of discursive production and participation among top U.S. political blogs on the left, right, and center during the summer of 2008 and finds… More

Feb 15, 2010

Next Generation Connectivity

A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world

The FCC announced that the Berkman Center would conduct an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world… More

Publication
Mar 30, 2009

Dynamic remodeling of in-group bias during the 2008 presidential election

People often favor members of their own group, while discriminating against members of other groups. Such in-group favoritism has been shown to play an important role in human… More

Publication
May 15, 2006

The Wealth of Networks

How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

Book Description, from Amazon: With the radical changes in information production that the Internet has introduced, we stand at an… More


News

News
Oct 2, 2020

Tracing the disinformation campaign on mail-in voter fraud

Research shows elites, mass media play an important role in spreading voting misinformation More

WCJB
Jan 24, 2019

On Twitter, limited number of characters spreading fake info

A tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more, a new study finds. More

News
Dec 9, 2018

Network Propaganda named one of the best books of 2018

The Guardian celebrates some of our research as the most important of the year. More

Jul 12, 2018

Understanding Media and Information Quality in an Age of Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Algorithms and Machine Learning

Technology can be a threat to the integrity and quality of media, but also a source of potential solutions. More

Oct 15, 2013

Shaw and Benkler win Best Published Article Award in Information Technology and Politics from the APSA

Berkman fellow Aaron Shaw and faculty member Yochai Benkler have won the Best Published Article Award in Information Technology and Politics published in 2012 from the American… More

Feb 5, 2013

Yochai Benkler's "Open Wireless vs. Licensed Spectrum: Evidence from Market Adoption" published in latest issue of JOLT

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to announce the publication of Open Wireless vs. Licensed Spectrum: Evidence from Market Adoption,… More

Nov 14, 2011

John Palfrey's Next Chapter: Onward to the Phillips Academy!

The directors of the Berkman Center wish to extend our warmest congratulations to John Palfrey, our colleague and friend, upon his appointment as the Head of School of the… More

Nov 8, 2011

New Yochai Benkler Working Paper - Open Wireless vs. Licensed Spectrum: Evidence from Market Adoption

The Berkman Center is pleased to share a working paper from Harvard Law School Professor and Berkman Center Faculty Co-Director Yochai Benkler. More

Sep 22, 2011

Radio Berkman 183: The Cooperation

This week on Radio Berkman Yochai Benkler discusses his new book The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest with David Weinberger... More

Sep 22, 2011

The Penguin and the Leviathan on Bookshelves Now

The Berkman Center is pleased to announce that Faculty Co-Director and Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Yochai Benkler's The Penguin and the Leviathan… More

May 26, 2011

61st Annual Conference of the International Communication Association

Attending ICA 2011 this week and trying to figure out which sessions to take in? A number of Berkman Center people are also participating in ICA 2011... More

May 5, 2011

Radio Berkman 182: Fear of a Networked Fourth Estate

This week on Radio Berkman: Yochai Benkler shares his analysis of Wikileaks with Dan Jones... More

May 4, 2011

Yochai Benkler receives Ford Foundation ‘Visionaries Award’

Yochai Benkler, Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center, and Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, Harvard Law School, today received the $100,000 Ford… More

Mar 16, 2011

Harnessing technology for social good

[updated April 11]

Last month the Ford Foundation hosted the Wired for Change conference, and a pack of Berkman Center folks, friends, and family were in New York for the event. Ford has posted full… More

Feb 15, 2011

Questions for Secretary Clinton concerning "Internet freedom"

Faculty associate Matthew Hindman provoked an energetic email exchange among members of the extended Berkman Center community today, in anticipation of Secretary Clinton's … More

Feb 18, 2010

Radio Berkman 143: Fast, Cheap, and Everywhere

This week on Radio Berkman: David Weinberger interviews Yochai Benkler about the Berkman Center's substantial report for the FCC on broadband deployment and policy around the… More

Jul 14, 2009

Harvard’s Berkman Center to Conduct Independent Review of Broadband Studies to Assist FCC

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University will conduct an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage… More

Apr 21, 2009

On Remix and Born Digital

book reviews in Science Magazine

The Books et al. section in the current issue of Science features two Berkman Center-related pieces of interest to the wider community. Yochai Benkler considers Lawrence Lessig's… More

Apr 2, 2009

Investigating in-group bias in the 2008 Democratic primary

The Berkman Center is pleased to announce the first publication to emerge from the weekly seminar of Berkman’s interdisciplinary Cooperation research project: "Dynamic remodeling… More

Mar 11, 2009

Berkman Center’s ‘Media Cloud’ To Offer Insights on Media Trends, the Blogosphere and News Industry Dynamics

Thomson Reuters Contributes Calais Web Service to New Research Tool from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Thomson Reuters has teamed with Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society to support the new ‘Media Cloud’ open research tool. Debuting in Q2, 2009, Media Cloud… More

Sep 29, 2008

Harvard Graduate Student Awards - Applications Now Available

We're pleased to announce the BCIS Harvard Graduate Student Awards, intended to help Harvard University graduate students take interdisciplinary approaches to exploring Internet… More

Aug 20, 2008

Join Professor Benkler's Cooperation Research Group

Local research assistants are wanted to join Professor Yochai Benkler's group this fall, which is embarking on a new effort to provide a map of commons-based and cooperative peer… More

Jul 8, 2008

Rebooting America: Ideas for Resdesigning American Democracy for the Internet Age

Personal Democracy Forum has released Rebooting America, including essays from Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, Gene Koo, David Weinberger, and many more. More


Community

The Washington Post

Trump’s power on Twitter, Facebook will outlive his presidency

Yochai Benkler discusses Donald Trump’s future relationship to Fox News

Nov 6, 2020
NPR

Where Is US Election Misinformation Coming From? Hint: It's Not Russia

Yochai Benkler discusses election misinformation with NPR

Nov 2, 2020
CNN

Benkler: Newest right-wing ‘email’ story seems like a rerun

Yochai Benkler joins Brian Selter on CNN’s Reliable Sources to discuss the US 2020 Election

Oct 18, 2020
NiemanReports

How Not to Cover Voter Fraud Disinformation

Journalists should treat systematic disinformation campaigns from President Trump and his party no differently than those from Russian propagandists and Facebook clickbait artists

Oct 7, 2020
Columbia Journalism Review

COVID at the White House, voter disinformation, and how to report around the propaganda

Yochai Benkler joins the Columbia Journalism Review’s podcast

Oct 2, 2020
The New York Times

TV Ratings for Biden and Trump Signal an Increasingly Polarized Nation

Yochai Benkler discusses partisan media with the New York Times

Aug 28, 2020
The New York Times

Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion

Yochai Benkler discusses why Trump’s loyalists benefited from having told people not to believe what they were hearing.

Apr 1, 2020

BKC at FAT* 2020

Nani Jansen Reventlow and Yochai Benkler deliver keynotes at the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*)

Mar 4, 2020
WGBH

Don't Panic, It's Just The Collapse Of Neoliberalism

Video of a recent talk by Yochai Benkler at the Shorenstein Center

Feb 26, 2020
Bloomberg

Hardly Anybody Shares Fake News

Radio and cable TV are bigger conduits for conspiracy theories.

Nov 16, 2019
Harvard Law Today

Israeli Supreme Court Justice on combating propaganda in elections

Yochai Benkler moderated a discussion on measures the Israeli Supreme Court took to shut down deceptive election posts

Oct 29, 2019
MediaWell

Cautionary Notes on Disinformation and the Origins of Distrust

We need to look at long-term patterns of loss of trust in institutions, Yochai Benkler says.

Oct 17, 2019
Harvard Law Today

Innovation, Justice and Globalization

From patent law to the challenges facing the digital commons, leading academics and policymakers from around the world discussed intellectual property issues at Harvard Law…

Oct 17, 2019
The Washington Post

Fox News has no comment on its venomous rhetoric

Network Propaganda research on media ecosystems informs recent events

Aug 12, 2019
Duke Law & Technology Review

The Past and Future of the Internet

BKC community members contribute to Symposium for John Perry Barlow

Aug 12, 2019
The Atlantic

Why Conservatives Allege Big Tech Is Muzzling Them

Google and Facebook aren’t infringing on the right’s freedom of expression, but insisting otherwise is politically convenient.

Jul 28, 2019
The Guardian

Could ‘fake text’ be the next global political threat?

An AI fake text generator that can write paragraphs in a style based on just a sentence has raised concerns about its potential to spread false information

Jul 4, 2019
Harvard Law Today

Are Americans Getting Enough Fiber?

The U.S. is falling behind in fiber optic technology, but cities and localities are leading the way

Jun 22, 2019
Associated Press

Americans think fake news is big problem, blame politicians

Pew survey finds that half of U.S. adults consider fake news a major problem, and they mostly blame politicians and activists for it

Jun 5, 2019
Techdirt

Blame Fox News Before Facebook

Facebook is just one part of a broader media ecosystem, and not necessarily the most important one

Jun 5, 2019
Wired

How Tech Companies Are Shaping the Rules Governing AI

Yochai Benkler shares concerns about industry’s influence on AI governance and research

May 16, 2019
Nature

Don’t let industry write the rules for AI

Technology companies are running a campaign to bend research and regulation for their benefit; society must fight back, says Yochai Benkler.

May 1, 2019
The Guardian

Facebook teams with rightwing Daily Caller in factchecking program

Site co-founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson has promoted misinformation and is known for pro-Trump content

Apr 17, 2019
The Christian Science Monitor

Is America’s media divide destroying democracy?

Fox News in the Trump Era has been labeled “state TV.” Conservatives have complained about liberal media bias for decades. Separate media spheres have created separate realities –…

Apr 16, 2019
The Guardian

Julian Assange's charges are a direct assault on press freedom, experts warn

Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US…

Apr 12, 2019
New York Review of Books

Fall from Grace

"Network Propaganda" shines a light on the dark side of democracy.

Mar 21, 2019
The New Yorker

The Making of the Fox News White House

What does the data show? Looking at the relationship between Fox News and the Trump Administration.

Mar 11, 2019
Just Security

Prosecuting Wikileaks, Protecting Press Freedoms

Drawing the Line at Knowing Collaboration with a Foreign Intelligence Agency

The inadvertent disclosure of the likely existence of a sealed indictment against Julian Assange raises the question of what the constitutional implications of such an indictment…

Nov 19, 2018
Boston Review

Selling Outrage

Yochai Benkler argues that the mainstream media is our best hope for tempering the radical right.

Nov 12, 2018
LA Times

How the 'propaganda feedback loop' of right-wing media keeps more than a quarter of Americans siloed

Why is there so often no overlap, no resemblance whatsoever between the news events reported in mainstream print and broadcast coverage?

Nov 7, 2018
Washington Post

Blame Fox, not Facebook, for fake news

"The highly asymmetric pattern of media ecosystems we observe on the right and the left, despite the fact that Facebook and Twitter usage is roughly similar on both sides,…

Nov 6, 2018
Washington Post

The Russians didn’t swing the 2016 election to Trump

But Fox News might have

The fundamental driver of disinformation in American politics of the past three years has not been Russia, but Fox News and the insular right-wing media ecosystem it anchors.

Oct 24, 2018
Cato Institute

Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics

Yochai Benkler at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

Sep 28, 2018
The Tow Center for Digital Journalism

Network Propaganda

A discussion on how to think about technology, politics, and media in the post-truth moment

Sep 26, 2018
The New Yorker

A New Book Details the Damage Done by the Right-Wing Media in 2016

Harvard authors connect American politics, media, and technology in "a provocative new book"

Aug 28, 2018
Law and Political Economy blog

The Role of Technology in Political Economy

Yochai Benkler describes the limitations of the popular view of economic inequality and technology

Jul 25, 2018

Courses

Technology and Inequality - Fall 2019

Professor Yochai Benkler Since the 1970s, income for the median worker in the United… More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Winter 2019

The course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Winter 2018

This course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. More

Technology and Inequality - Fall 2017

The course will consider the role of technological change in shaping social and economic patterns, focusing in particular on the distribution of wealth in society. More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy Fall 2014

The course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. The intensive semester will combine several lectures and in-class… More

Property - Spring 2014

Basic introduction to property and the role of law in the construction of markets and social relations; an introduction to the vocabulary and grammar of legal forms; and initial… More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Winter 2014

The course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Fall 2012

The course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. More

Intellectual Property in the Digital Environment - Winter 2012

The course will consider the changes to the organization of information, knowledge, and cultural production in the networked environment, and how they have affected, and been… More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Fall 2011

The course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Fall 2009

The course discusses the emergence of the networked information economy and society, and the ways in which law and policy shape both economic relations and political values in the… More

Communications and Internet Law and Policy - Winter 2009

The course will provide an introduction and overview to questions of communications and Internet law and policy. More

Motivation: Seminar - Spring 2008

What prompts people to do what they do? A rapidly growing literature in several disciplines -- psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and economics -- casts new light on this age… More

Introduction to Patents, Copyrights, and Similar Exclusive Rights Regimes - Fall 2007

The course will offer an introduction to the basic institutional systems that regulate information production and exchange through the definition and allocation of exclusive… More


Events

Nov 17, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

Red and Blue Realities: Political Discourse and the 2020 Election

Video & Podcast: How asymmetrically polarized media in the United States shape political discourse

Video & Podcast: How asymmetrically polarized media in the United States shape political discourse More

Event
Oct 4, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

Network Propaganda

Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics

VIDEO & PODCAST: New research on the media ecosystem around the 2016 US election offer new perspectives and methods for diagnosing the sources of, and potential solutions for, the… More

Event
Oct 17, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Will Wikipedia exist in 20 years?

Featuring Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, in conversation with Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler

Join us for a stimulating conversation highlighting different perspectives of the question, "Will Wikipedia exist in 20 years?" More

Event
Feb 14, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Hyperloop Law: Autonomy, Infrastructure, and Transportation Startups

featuring General Counsel of Hyperloop One, Marvin Ammori

The future of transportation may include Google's autonomous vehicles, Uber's flying cars, and Amazon's delivery drones--all bound together by a high-speed hyperloop backbone. You… More

Sep 26, 2016 @ 4:00 PM

Power and Participation in the Networked Public Sphere

with John Palfrey, Yochai Benkler, Intisar Rabb, Zeynep Tufekci, Catherine Bracy, and Jonathan Zittrain

A creative discussion about the impact of the networked public sphere on global events, power dynamics, and our society at large, and how that influence may be changing in years… More

Event
Mar 25, 2015 @ 6:00 PM

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

With Berkman Fellow, Bruce Schneier. Moderated by Jonathan Zittrain with special guests, Yochai Benkler, Joe Nye, Sara Watson and Melissa Hathaway.

In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government… More

Apr 8, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

Intelligence Gathering and the Unowned Internet

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society is pleased to invite the community to continue the conversation on the future of the unowned Internet on April 8, 2014 with a panel… More

Feb 3, 2014 @ 5:00 PM

Defending an Unowned Internet

Opportunities for Technology, Policy, and Corporations

In the wake of the disclosures about government surveillance and the rise of corporate-run applications and protocols, is the idea of an "unowned" Internet still a credible one?… More

Event
Oct 18, 2011 @ 6:00 PM

The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest

Yochai Benkler, Berkman Center Faculty Co-Director

In his new book, Yochai Benkler uses evidence from neuroscience, economics, sociology, biology, and real-world examples to break down the myth of self-interest and replace it with… More

Sep 12, 2011 @ 5:00 PM

News and Entertainment in the Digital Age: A Vast Wasteland Revisited

In 1961, Newt Minow – then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – delivered a landmark speech to the National Association of Broadcasters on “Television and the… More

Sep 6, 2011 @ 6:30 PM

[September 6] Berkman Center Fall 2011 Open House

Come to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s Open House to meet our faculty, fellows, and staff, and to learn about the many ways you can get involved in our dynamic,… More

Sep 7, 2010 @ 6:00 PM

Berkman Center Fall 2010 Open House

Come to our Open House to meet Berkman faculty, fellows, and staff and to learn about the Center's current activities and ways you can get involved... More

Dec 10, 2009 @ 1:00 PM

FCC "Workshop: Review and Discussion of Broadband Deployment Research"

The FCC is holding a public workshop on two independent studies that were requested in connection with the development of the National Broadband Plan: the Berkman Center's "Next… More

Sep 23, 2009 @ 7:00 PM

Communication and Human Development: The Freedom Connection?

Amartya Sen, Michael Spence, Yochai Benkler, Clotilde Fonseca

Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen and Michael Spence joined Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts Yochai Benkler and Clotilde Fonseca in a public discussion of the role… More

Oct 16, 2007 @ 2:10 AM

Mix and Mash: A Discussion and Screening of (Illegal) Remixes

with Yochai Benkler

Yochai Benkler hosts Mix and Mash: A Discussion and Screening of (Illegal) Remixes More