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Assembly: Disinformation
Program

Assembly: Disinformation

The Assembly: Disinformation Program brings together participants from academia, industry, government, and civil society from across disciplines to explore and make progress on disinformation in the digital public sphere. 

Assembly explores disinformation from a range of perspectives, addressing the challenges and opportunities of public and private sector responses to disinformation and related problems, including within cybersecurity, platforms and internet governance, public health, politics, elections, democracy, and public discourse. The program brings together innovative approaches to cross-sectoral collaborations focused on the public interest and thoughtful interdisciplinary programming, with the Berkman Klein Center's history as a convener and long view on the problems and promise of the internet.

The Assembly: Disinformation Program

The program is organized around three tracks: the Assembly Forum, the Assembly Student Fellowship, and the Assembly Fellowship. The tracks are designed to bring together cohorts of experts, professionals, and students to better understand, and actively address, complex issues of disinformation.

  • THE ASSEMBLY FORUM is a discussion forum for senior leadership from internet platforms, the government, the academic field, and civil society. The Forum serves as a means to make connections between experts working on different facets of disinformation, and hosts briefings and conversations conducted under the Chatham House Rule on specific challenges and solutions for disinformation. The Forum aims to elicit candid perspectives, surface points of agreement, make progress on hard problems, and offer recommendations where pertinent. 
  • THE ASSEMBLY STUDENT FELLOWSHIP brings together a cohort of Harvard students from a range of disciplines and schools. Student fellows participate in problem-oriented seminars led by Harvard faculty, practitioners, and experts, and engage in active discussion about disinformation problems in the public interest. Student fellow discussions will cover a range of topics including disinformation and election security, race and racism, public health, platform policies, and journalism. 
  • THE ASSEMBLY FELLOWSHIP is a non-residential four-month fellowship for technologists, scholars, and policymakers to tackle difficult problems in technology and policy, currently in its fifth year. From 2019-2021, the Assembly Fellowship is focused on addressing disinformation on online platforms; in previous years, the program addressed digital privacy and security, as well as the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence. Assembly Fellows develop projects and prototypes aimed at addressing challenges related to the year’s theme. Over the course of the fellowship, Assembly Fellows learn and build together with a deep focus on the public interest; after the fellowship, fellows are encouraged to apply their learnings to their ongoing work.

These three tracks build on existing work, including three programs at the Center which were formerly known as the Berklett Cybersecurity project, Techtopia, and the Assembly program, a joint initiative with the MIT Media Lab.

Tackling Disinformation

Assembly: Disinformation is situated within a growing field of scholars and practitioners tackling problems related to disinformation and our information ecosystem. The range and urgency of activity is heartening. Assembly is collaborative by design and builds on existing research, including the Center’s previous work on intermediary responsibility, cybersecurity, the media ecosystem, and their intersections.  

We see the digital realm’s inability to cope with disinformation as part of a long-deferred reckoning on these fundamental intersections. Tackling disinformation has the potential to serve as a forcing function for difficult, important conversations on fundamental issues of trust and responsibility in our information ecosystem. 

Leadership & Funding

Assembly: Disinformation is led by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Faculty Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Our program staff team includes: Senior Program Manager Hilary Ross, Assistant Research Director David O'Brien, Program Coordinator Zenzele Best, Staff Fellow Oumou Ly, Senior Research Coordinator Will Marks, and Director of Art and Education at metaLAB Sarah Newman. (Learn more about our team and their roles at the bottom of the page here.) A number of additional Berkman Klein Center community and staff members also support the project's efforts.

This program is generously supported by the Ethics and Governance of AI Fund. Previously, this program was supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Knight Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. More information about the Berkman Klein Center's funding and support can be found here.


Our Work 31

The Hill
Dec 19, 2020

When disinformation becomes a political strategy, who holds the line?

Oumou Ly explains the important role media and tech companies play in patrolling false information, in an op-ed for The Hill. More

The Breakdown
Dec 1, 2020

The Breakdown: Joan Donovan on domestic misinformation

Q&A covers election misinformation, content moderation, and COVID-19

Q&A covers election misinformation, content moderation, and COVID-19 More

Oct 28, 2020

Assembly welcomes 2020-2021 Harvard Student Fellows

Cohort from across the University will tackle disinformation on online platforms

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society launched its third annual Assembly Student Fellowship cohort More

The Breakdown
Oct 27, 2020

The Breakdown: Foreign Interference and the U.S. 2020 Election

Election interference and platform interventions in the lead-up to November 3 More

Oct 6, 2020

Exercises simulate disinformation, foreign influence operations targeting November election

Publication provides the intelligence community, social media companies, state election officials, and news media a resource to plan for the election

Publication features four exercises designed for four key stakeholders working on the front lines of the election More

Oct 6, 2020

US Elections Disinformation Tabletop Exercise Package

Publication provides the intelligence community, social media companies, state election officials, and news media a resource to plan for the election. More

Jul 30, 2020

The Breakdown: Jonathan Zittrain reflects on 2019–2020 Assembly program, disinformation

Special two-part episode delves into BKC's Assembly program, big challenges with disinformation More

Jun 18, 2020

The Breakdown: Brian Scully on government response to disinformation

Disinformation and the U.S. 2020 presidential election, COVID-19

Disinformation and the U.S. 2020 presidential election, COVID-19 More

News
May 21, 2020

The Breakdown: evelyn douek on doctored media, platform response and responsibility

Do tech companies have a responsibility for false content beyond the impact of that content on the information environment on their sites?

The second episode of our new video series asks, do tech companies have a responsibility for false content beyond the impact of that content on the information environment on… More

May 14, 2020 @ 5:30 PM

[Virtual] Assembly Fellowship Project Showcase

2020 Assembly Fellows present projects designed to tackle the spread of disinformation

Learn about the 2020 Assembly fellowship projects More

News
Mar 31, 2020

Three new ideas for mitigating disinformation

Assembly discussion explores new ways to mitigate challenges of disinformation

Assembly discussion explores new ways to mitigate challenges of disinformation More

News
Mar 31, 2020

Assembly Fellows team up to combat disinformation

2020 cohort convenes to launch new projects

2020 cohort convenes to launch new projects More

News

Inside the Assembly Student Fellowship

Zenzele Best, Program Coordinator for Assembly: Disinformation, offers an inside look at the Assembly Student Fellowship.

Jan 29, 2020
News
Aug 14, 2019

Apply for the 2020 Assembly: Disinformation Fellowship

Application closes on September 15 at 9:00pm EST More

News
Jul 19, 2019

What We Created During Assembly 2019

Over three months the BKC and MIT Media Lab’s third annual Assembly program built four projects that offer ways to move forward on the thorny problems at the intersection of AI… More

News
Mar 27, 2019

Inside The R&D Of AI Ethics

Designing a roadmap for AI governance

It’s clear that the roadmap for AI governance won’t rely solely on business or academic research. That's where Assembly comes in. More

News
Feb 20, 2019

Zittrain and Zuckerberg discuss encryption, ‘information fiduciaries’ and targeted advertisements

CEO visits with students from the University’s Techtopia program and Zittrain’s Internet and Society course

Should Facebook be considered an “information fiduciary” when it comes to the privacy of its clients? More

News
Feb 5, 2019

"Don't Panic: Making Progress on the 'Going Dark' Debate" now in Portuguese.

"Don't Panic: Making Progress on the 'Going Dark' Debate" now in Portuguese after translation by ITS Rio More

News
Jan 29, 2019

The “Dataset Nutrition Label Project” Tackles Dataset Health and Standards

Algorithms can only be as good as the data that underly them. Learn about one project that is pulling back the curtain on the quality of datasets. More

News
Nov 27, 2018

The Dataset Nutrition Label Project

The Dataset Nutrition Label Project empowers data scientists and policymakers with practical tools to improve AI outcomes More

News
Jul 24, 2018

Apply Now to Join Our Assembly Cohort in 2019!

At the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab. Applications are due Sunday, September 2, 2018!

Seeking technologists with diverse skill sets to confront the concrete and constantly emerging problems related to artificial intelligence and governance. Applications are due… More

Publication
Jun 1, 2018

Coming in from the Cold: A Safe Harbor from the CFAA and DMCA §1201

A proposal for a statutory safe harbor from the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and DMCA for security research activities. More

News
Dec 12, 2017

Announcing the 2018 Assembly Cohort

At the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab

We are thrilled to announce the 2018 cohort for the Assembly program at the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab! Read more to learn about the twenty-one individuals who will be… More

Publication
Sep 13, 2017

Cross-Border Data Access Reform

A Primer on the Proposed U.S.-U.K. Agreement

A brief primer on how cross-border data access requests currently work, options for reform, and major challenges to reform ahead. More

News
Jun 20, 2017

Join Our 2018 AI Assembly Cohort!

At the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab are excited to announce the launch of the … More

Dec 12, 2016

Announcing the Berkman Klein Assembly 2017 Cohort

We are thrilled to announce the 2017 cohort for the Berkman Klein Assembly pilot program launching January 2017! The cohort is made up of seventeen diverse participants with deep… More

Jul 2, 2016

The Berkman Klein Assembly Pilot Program 2017

Calling Developers and Tech Industry Professionals

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is excited to announce the Berkman Klein Assembly, an innovative pilot program that will experiment with… More

Feb 1, 2016

Don't Panic: Making Progress on the "Going Dark" Debate

This report from the Berkman Center's Berklett Cybersecurity Project offers a new perspective on the "going dark" debate from the discussion, debate, and analyses of an… More

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


Community 01

News

Inside the Assembly Student Fellowship

Zenzele Best, Program Coordinator for Assembly: Disinformation, offers an inside look at the Assembly Student Fellowship.

Jan 29, 2020

People 11

Point of Contact

Team