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AI: Media and Information Quality

Led by extensive data collection and enormous investments in machine learning, a handful of companies increasingly find themselves able to algorithmically influence billions of users in ways both powerful and subtle. As media, journalism, and information quality play a central role in promoting healthy democratic societies, a reliance on digital platforms that are themselves increasingly reliant on AI to select the content we see has raised significant concerns about the role that autonomous systems are playing in influencing human judgment, opinions, perceptions, and even election outcomes. Addressing these challenges requires grappling with difficult governance questions pitting free speech against government or private party regulation. It also raises significant questions about the role of transparency in these influential algorithms and whether such transparency may actually create opportunities for solutions that enable a competitive market for news-feed algorithms, customized to the needs of each user.

We are examining this accelerating shift from a state-citizen relationship to a platform-consumer one by conducting new empirical research about the effects of autonomous systems on the production, dissemination, and consumption of media across these platforms. Additionally, through innovative partnerships, we are developing tools that help both users and platforms better respond to these challenges. The cornerstones of this work are the Harmful Speech and Media Cloud projects, through which we work to increase understanding of the mechanisms by which media manipulation occurs, track its prevalence within media ecosystems, and assess the potential for alternative interventions in order to evaluate the impact of these technologies on societal attitudes and democratic institutions. With our work in this area, we are simultaneously furthering our understanding of the impact of AI on the media and deepening our partnerships with the private sector to effectively respond to this impact.

Publications 02

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

News 07

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Your Guide to BKC@RightsCon 2018

Connect with members of the Berkman Klein community and learn about their research. More

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

Berkman Klein at IGF 2017

This week marks the 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a multistakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. More

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

How Facebook Tries to Regulate Postings Made by Two Billion People

Berkman Klein Center hosts a day of conversation about reducing harmful speech online and hears from the Facebook executive in charge of platform moderation policies

The Berkman Klein Center community explores broader research questions and topics related to the challenges of keeping tabs on the daily social media interactions of hundreds of… More

Friday, Sep 8, 2017

What Makes Information Valuable? Information Quality, Revisited

Four paradigm shifts emerge that have shaped my thinking about IQ as a theoretical concept and empirical phenomenon. More

Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017

Partisan Right-Wing Websites Shaped Mainstream Press Coverage Before 2016 Election, Berkman Klein Study Finds

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today released a comprehensive analysis of online media and social media coverage of the 2016 presidential… More

Tuesday, Aug 8, 2017

Harmful Speech Online: At the Intersection of Algorithms and Human Behavior

A workshop exploring how algorithms and human behavior can both enable and prevent harmful speech online

How do algorithms and human behavior intersect to impact the spread and study of harmful speech online? More

Community 08

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?

Wednesday, 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,…

Tuesday, 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.

Wednesday, Oct 24, 2018
Harvard Law Today

‘Network Propaganda’ takes a closer look at media and American politics

"Professional mainstream media — both in its professional centrist model, and in its highly commercially successful right-wing model — is the scaffolding on which everything else…

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
Cato Institute

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

Yochai Benkler at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

Friday, 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

Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018

Filling the void Alex Jones left behind

How social media bans reshape the filter bubble

Wednesday, Aug 8, 2018

When a robot writes your news, what happens to democracy?

In the not-so-distant future, we will be presented with the version of the news we wish to read -- not the news that some reporter, columnist or editorial board decides we need…

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018

Events 02

Sep 29, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

How to Watch Them Watching You

Researching Social Media, Online Platforms, and Algorithmic Systems From the Outside

Join us at the University of Michigan for a discussion with Eric Gilbert, Cedric Langbort, Jeff Larson, Casey Pierce, and Christo Wilson on how researchers can navigate and… More

Sep 19, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

The Line Between Hate and Debate

featuring Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management in conversation with Professor Jonathan Zittrain

As society figures out what is acceptable and what is harmful, can technology play a role in improving online debate? More

People 06