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The Institute for Rebooting Social Media

The Institute for Rebooting Social Media

The Institute for Rebooting Social Media is a three-year, “pop-up” research initiative to accelerate progress towards addressing social media’s most urgent problems, including misinformation, privacy breaches, harassment, and content governance. By convening participants across industry, government, civil society, and academia in focused, timebound collaboration, the Institute will build a portfolio of research, projects, programming, and educational opportunities to improve the state of the digital social space.

The goal of the new (and, by design, ephemeral) Institute is to spur real, practical changes in how online social media works. It aims to help generate, identify, elevate, and connect work across disciplines and sectors, and to see how efforts in one sector or mode—say, technical—might mesh with efforts elsewhere—such as in the legal and policy realm.

A cornerstone of the Institute is its sociotechnical approach. Institute participants will analyze the benefits, risks, and possibilities of networked communication using broad perspectives from science, law, public governance, economics, and other fields. Through this collaborative and holistic approach, the Institute will enable online ecosystems that encourage technical and social innovation while using intentional design to mitigate social harms.

Collaboratively, Institute participants will test under-discussed ideas and develop new ones; build prototype tools and protocols, whether in technical terms or as new institutions or institutional relationships; develop policies enriched by attention to sociotechnical issues; and encourage accurate and accessible narratives about social media.

The Institute and its programs are supported by generous contributions from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Reid Hoffman, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and Archewell Foundation.

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Our Work 43

Jun 10, 2024

Call for Applications: Public Interest Social Media Solutions Workshop

Applications are due June 30, 2024.

The Applied Social Media Lab seeks applications for a workshop dedicated to imagining and building new public interest technology. Applications are due June 30, 2024.

May 29, 2024

Announcing the Institute for Rebooting Social Media's 2024-25 Visiting Scholars

May 29, 2024, Cambridge, MA – The Institute for Rebooting Social Media (RSM) at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center (BKC) is thrilled to announce its cohort of Visiting…

May 2, 2024 @ 9:30 AM

Platforms and the Right to Information

Hybrid Workshop, May 2

One-day workshop examining what the right to information should look like in relation to platforms and how it can be implemented in a manner that protects user privacy...

Dec 13, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

The Future of Social Media Research

(RSM Speaker Series)

RSM welcomes Ethan Zuckerman for a conversation with Faculty Director James Mickens on the future of social media research and third-party social media tools.

Dec 6, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

The U.S. 2020 Facebook & Instagram Election Study

Understanding Social Media's (RSM Speaker Series)

Launched as a partnership between Meta and independent external researchers, the U.S. 2020 Facebook & Instagram Election Study has led to groundbreaking social science scholarship…

Nov 29, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Platforms, Privacy, and Power

Why Intimate Privacy Protections Matter (RSM Speaker Series)

The Institute for Rebooting Social welcomes Jon Penney and Alexis Shore for a discussion of their research on platform intimate privacy protections, coauthored with Danielle…

Nov 15, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Palo Alto

A History of California Capitalism, and the World

RSM welcomes Malcolm Harris and Erik Baker for a discussion of Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World, Harris’s national bestseller.

Nov 8, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Platforms, creators and the co-option of social justice narratives

(RSM Speaker Series)

  RSM welcomes Zoë Glatt for a conversation with Visiting Scholar David Craig about her current research on the juxtapositions between structural…

Nov 1, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

AI Ethics and Governance

An Industry Perspective (RSM Speaker Series)

  With the incorporation of AI across industries, questions about the ethical implications of using these tools have become mainstream. This panel discussion will bring in…

Oct 25, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Disinformation Pulse

Lessons Learned from Brazil’s 2022 Elections (RSM Speaker Series)

  Disinformation was widespread during Brazil’s 2022 elections, but it’s hardly a new or location-specific phenomenon. This panel discussion examines the recent history of…

Oct 11, 2023

Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and Non-Profit Project Liberty Announce Launch of New BKC Lab

a first-of-its-kind program to assess and build social media technology in the public interest

Oct 11, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Gianluca Stringhini on Mitigating Malicious Activity Online

(RSM Speaker Series)

Computational methods can play a key role in measuring, modeling, and mitigating malicious activities online.  RSM welcomes Gianluca Stringhini for a discussion with Visiting…

Sep 21, 2023 @ 9:30 AM

Now & Next: Platform Accountability and Content Governance

On 9/22, live mock deliberations, panels reflecting on the Oversight Board’s first three years, and conversations focused on the future of content governance...

Aug 16, 2023

Not Just Semantics: Learning from Definitions in Technology Policy Proposals

Assembly Fellow Marissa Gerchick explains the state of affairs that motivated term tabs, her Assembly Fellowship project that aggregates and makes searchable important terms in…

Aug 9, 2023

Platform Accountability: Developing Systems to More Meaningfully Assess and Mitigate Platform Harms

Assembly Fellow Nate Lubin recaps his fellowship project, a white paper which argues for a series of platform accountability mechanisms informed by the field of public health.

Aug 2, 2023

2022-23 Assembly Fellowship Summary

The 2022-2023 RSM Assembly Fellowship program brought together 13 interdisciplinary researchers, entrepreneurs, and professionals to reimagine and rework digital social space in…

Jun 12, 2023

Accountability Infrastructure

How to implement limits on platform optimization to protect population health

A white paper that builds upon the history of public health for addressing the systemic harms of online platforms.

May 22, 2023 @ 11:00 AM

A Convivial Social Media?

May 22, join us for a discussion and workshop using the lens of conviviality to ask how we create healthier and more sustainable engagement with social media.

May 2, 2023

Announcing the Institute for Rebooting Social Media's 2023-24 Visiting Scholars

Scholars will use their time with the Institute to investigate urgent social media issues and propose mitigations...

Apr 13, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies

On April 13, Gaia Bernstein discusses her new book "Unwired: Gaining Control Over Addictive Technologies."

Mar 28, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

The Challenge of Next-Generation AI

Russell Neuman will address practical issues of human-centered AI design as well as broader questions of privacy and public policy.

Mar 23, 2023 @ 3:00 PM

Imagining Alternative Social Media Designs

Explore how everything from novel constraints to finite structures can help us break out of the profit-driven engagement-obsessed platform world we currently inhabit.

Mar 6, 2023

Apply now for the BKC Summer 2023 Internship Program

Applications due by Monday, March 27 at 5:00pm ET.

BKC summer interns are substantively involved in BKC's projects, programs, and other efforts...

Feb 28, 2023 @ 4:00 PM

The Propagandists’ Playbook

Dr. Francesca Tripodi discusses her book "The Propagandists' Playbook: How Conservative Elites Manipulate Search...

Feb 21, 2023 @ 9:30 AM

Gonzalez v. Google Live Analysis

Moderated by Kate Klonick, a panel of internet law experts will react to oral arguments in Gonzalez v. Google...

Sep 12, 2022

Opportunity: Research Assistants for the Institute for Rebooting Social Media

Join the Rebooting Social Media team! The Institute for Rebooting Social Media is a three-year research initiative at the Berkman Klein Center and is looking for a few research…

Aug 17, 2022

Announcing the 2022-23 RSM Assembly Fellows

Thirteen interdisciplinary professionals who will build new interfaces, implement novel protocols, and create additional artifacts that reimagine digital social space in service…

May 17, 2022 @ 12:00 PM

The Tower and the Park: Structural Misalignments of Social Media

Joanne Cheung will discuss “Real Estate Politik: Democracy and the Financialization of Social Networks"...

May 12, 2022

Hiring: Program Coordinator, Rebooting Social Media

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University seeks a Program Coordinator for educational programs and research within the Institute for Rebooting Social…

Apr 21, 2022 @ 5:00 PM

Private Consciences and Public Companies: Whether and How to Work within Big Tech

How should students think about working for Big Tech companies? What are the ethical considerations that students should ponder?

Apr 13, 2022

Apply for the Rebooting Social Media Assembly Fellowship

Applications due May 6, 2022

For professionals who are building projects that help reimagine the digital space to better support democratic governance...

Apr 7, 2022

Announcing the Institute for Rebooting Social Media's 2022-23 Visiting Scholars

Scholars will be in residence developing research into social media and the prospects for interventions to improve it.

Jan 20, 2022

It Could Happen (T)here: Transnational Advocacy Strategies Around Social Media

Invited workshop brings activists, scholars, and practitioners together from across disciplines, sectors, and countries

How might we better connect the experiences and negative impacts that social media has had around the world? How can we use those connections to advance advocacy, research, and…

Jan 19, 2022

Rebooting Social Media Student Discussion Group — Apply Now!

The Institute for Rebooting Social Media is currently recruiting Harvard graduate students for a spring discussion group.

Dec 16, 2021

Social media as a crisis discipline

Invited workshop brings experts together from across disciplines, sectors, and countries

How can the science of catastrophic collective behavior provide insight into the woes of social media platforms?

Nov 24, 2021

BKC incorporating "#GoodID" into research and programs

#GoodID, an effort to catalyze constructive conversation around digital identity, will be a part of the Center's research and programming in the coming year.

Nov 18, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

The Technology Future We Want: Imagining Positive Futures for Social Media

EVENT RECAP: "Psychedelic Bubbles and a Non-Euclidian Costume Party: Imagining positive futures for social media"

Rebooting Social Media
Nov 17, 2021

Student Groundwork

Initial explorations from research assistants at the Institute for Rebooting Social Media

To start spinning up the Institute, a team of staff and research assistants investigated the existing landscape of academic and civil society efforts to improve and reimagine…

Oct 19, 2021 @ 1:00 PM

Private Social Media Data in the Public Interest: What’s Next?

VIDEO: This October 19 panel explored dilemmas, debates, and paths forward for public interest research access to social media data.

Oct 14, 2021

Apply for the Institute for Rebooting Social Media's 2022-2023 Visiting Scholars Program

For faculty who wish to spend next academic year developing research around social media's opportunities and harms...

Aug 6, 2021

Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center Receives $2 Million From Knight Foundation To Combat Disinformation

James Mickens shares insights into the Center's new Institute for Rebooting Social Media.

Jul 20, 2021

Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society to launch a three-year multidisciplinary Institute to “reboot social media”

The initiative will help to address a wide range of topics related to social media and beyond

Jul 20, 2021

A note from Jonathan Zittrain

Exciting news and opportunities from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

The Berkman Klein Center shares exciting news and opportunities from our co-founder Jonathan Zittrain

Community 18


We spend less time on TikTok than we fear

RSM Alumna Elissa Redmiles summarizes her collaborative work on the (in)accuracy of user estimates of TikTok usage, and lays out the implications: 

Feb 23, 2024
The Atlantic

The Meta Oversight Board Has Some Genuinely Smart Suggestions

RSM Visiting Scholar Kate Klonick writes about the positive steps Meta’s Oversight Board recently took, and how it can improve separation within platforms.  “The board…

Dec 9, 2022
Scientific American

Twitter Is Not Rocket Science—It’s Harder

RSM Assembly Fellow Joe Bak-Coleman writes about the challenges of managing human behavior, especially as applied to Twitter.  “On a social network, interactions between…

Nov 21, 2022
All Tech is Human Podcast

All Tech Is Human Library Podcast Series #15 | Sahar Massachi

Sahar Massachi joins David Ryan Polgar to discuss "the importance of fostering a generation of integrity workers to transform our technology ecosystem." “For me, I like the…

Oct 27, 2022
Last Archive Podcast

Trial By Teenager, Part I

With Jill Lepore, Jonathan Zittrain talks about his idea of using high school students as vetters of online political ads.

With Jill Lepore, Jonathan Zittrain talks about his idea of using high school students as vetters of online political ads. “Not only would you...have enough high school…

Oct 27, 2022
The New York Times

How Social Media Amplifies Misinformation More Than Information

Rebooting Social Media Assembly Fellow and Integrity Institute Co-founder Sahar Massachi's work with the Integrity Institute's weekly misinformation dashboard was featured in The…

Oct 14, 2022
The Brazilian Report

Explaining Brazil #218: Demons, Freemasons, and cannibalism

Rebooting Social Media Visiting Scholar and BKC Faculty Associate David Nemer discusses social media strategies and their implications in the Brazilian presidential election…

Oct 12, 2022

Digital assistants: Inequalities and social context of access, use, and perceptual understanding

Yong Jin Park, RSM Visiting Scholar, analyzes the digital inequality in AI.  "This study focuses on digital divide in the context of access, use, and perceptual…

Sep 15, 2022

Brazil on Fire: Nazis on Your Street

David Nemer speaks about Brazil and the history of fascism, and the role cyberactivism plays in emboldening it. “Misinformation without hate, fortunately, doesn’t go very far…

Sep 13, 2022
Harvard Law Today

‘Living by Protocol’ meditates on the impact of social media and its future

Berkman affiliates preview ‘Living by Protocol,’ the exhibition by metaLAB that runs through July 3 at Harvard Art Museums “How does this influence what you say, and to whom…

Jun 7, 2022

Telegram’s Embrace of Contradiction

Will Marks and David Nemer assess Telegram's content moderation.

Apr 6, 2022
Financial Times

Bolsonaro crafts new social media strategy ahead of Brazil election

David Nemer discusses Bolsonaro supporters’ migration from WhatsApp to Telegram.

Jan 12, 2022
All Tech is Human

Inside the Institute for Rebooting Social Media

Hilary Ross dives deep into the mission of the Institute for Rebooting Social Media at All Tech is Human's Responsible Tech University Summit.

Dec 29, 2021
Harvard Law Today

Is it time to swipe left on social media?

Jonathan Zittrain, evelyn douek, and John Palfrey share insights on the consequences of social media after a Facebook whistleblower dominated headlines last week. "Regulators…

Oct 12, 2021
CNN Business

Facebook's success was built on algorithms. Can they also fix it?

James Mickens and Hilary Ross discuss the drawbacks and potential solutions of social media algorithms.

Oct 10, 2021
Harvard Law School

Design for Democratic Discourse

Jonathan Zittrain and Deb Roy will teach a seminar on the design of digital media at Harvard Law School in Fall 2021.

Jul 19, 2021
The Atlantic

The Internet Is Rotting

Jonathan Zittrain shares the ways humanity’s knowledge can change or disappear without warning on the Internet

Jun 30, 2021

Assembly Student Fellowship: A Seminar with James Mickens

James Mickens discusses combatting disinformation in a seminar for the Assembly Student Fellows of 2021.

Apr 8, 2021

People 10

Point of Contact


Related Projects & Tools 01

Applied Social Media Lab

A new home for technologists and practitioners to reimagine, rebuild, and reboot social media to serve the public good...