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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 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Craig Newmark Philanthropies have committed generous donations to support the initiative.

To learn more about the pop-up Institute’s strategic vision, its soft launch in fall 2021, and its full launch in the spring semester of 2022, sign up to receive updates here

To contact the Institute team please email

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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 17, 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"

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 18, 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...

The Harvard Crimson
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 21, 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 21, 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

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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. …

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

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