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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 39

May 17, 2021 @ 4:00 PM

Assembly Project Fellowship Showcase

An inside look at the work of the 2021 Assembly Fellows on Disinformation, Privacy, and Ethical AI

An inside look at the work of the 2021 Assembly Fellows on Disinformation, Privacy, and Ethical AI

Medium
Mar 12, 2021

The Breakdown: Lisa Kaplan on domestic disinformation

Q&A explores threat actors, early detection, and content moderation

News
Jan 25, 2021

BKC Assembly announces 2021 Assembly Fellowship cohort

Five teams from inside and outside academia to further develop interventions in the areas of disinformation, cybersecurity, and ethical AI

Five teams from inside and outside academia to further develop interventions in the areas of disinformation, cybersecurity, and ethical AI

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.

News
Dec 7, 2020

The Breakdown: A video series from BKC

A brief interview series sharing an inside look at the work of BKC

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

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

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

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

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.

Aug 14, 2020

The Breakdown: Daphne Keller explains the Communications Decency Act

Daphne Keller discusses CDA 230, the executive order, and content moderation

In this episode of The Breakdown, Oumou Ly is joined by Daphne Keller of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center to discuss the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, content…

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

News
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

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…

Event
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

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

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

Aug 14, 2019

Apply for the 2020 Assembly: Disinformation Fellowship

Application closes on September 15 at 9:00pm EST

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…

Harvard Business School Digital Initiative
May 6, 2019

Some assembly required: building an interdisciplinary superteam to tackle AI ethics

A diverse cohort of experts make up Assembly 2019 with a singular mission — tackling AI bias and collaborating on meaningful solutions.

News
Apr 29, 2019

Assembly: Building An Interdisciplinary Project From The Ground Up

Inside the first few weeks of the 2019 Assembly program

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.

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?

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

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.

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

Medium
Aug 22, 2018

Why We’re Hosting Assembly

In this Medium story, the Berkman Klein Center provides background on the Assembly program.

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…

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.

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…

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.

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 …

News
Feb 22, 2017

HLS and MIT Media Lab launch innovative course on law and regulation in the digital world

For the first time, Harvard Law School and the MIT Media Lab have collaborated to host an innovative January-term course, 

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…

News
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…

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…

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…


Community 06

Medium

Delving into Disinformation

Harvard students explore disinformation on online platforms during the Assembly Student Fellowship

Zenzele Best provides an overview of the 2020-2021 Assembly Student Fellowship

May 4, 2021
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
Medium

Introducing AI Blindspot: A Call for Tech to Think Holistically and Spot Risks

How can teams prevent structural inequalities and their unconscious biases from affecting AI systems?

Oct 22, 2019
Harvard Gazette

Harvard students explore ethics in tech

Assembly Student Fellowship convenes students to tackle the biggest issues in tech today.

Sep 1, 2019
Medium

Announcing Assembly: Disinformation

New program explores disinformation in the digital public sphere from a cybersecurity perspective

Aug 14, 2019
Medium

Designing Frameworks that Allow for Intentions, Commitments and Exuberance in AI

How should we think about the ethical implications of AI-powered products and services?

Jul 2, 2018

People 11

Point of Contact

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