WGBH News Forums: How To Spot Fake News

MON, JAN 13, 2020 (59:42)

WGBH News and the Forum Network begin 2020 with an original, news-focused speaker series that will provide a closer look at the presidential election season. In these quarterly events, audience members can connect to WGBH News reporters and experts who will help navigate a heavy year of political coverage.

This first event focuses on how to spot “fake news” in an age of disinformation, with a panel of scholars who study media manipulation, digital resources, and the spread of misinformation. The discussion is moderated by WGBH News Senior Digital Managing Editor, Laura Colarusso.

Photo: Ryan Arel/Forum Network

+ BIO: Christi Farrar

Christi Showman Farrar is a Consultant at the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) where she sees herself as a “librarian’s librarian”, providing continuing education and support to MLS member libraries across the Commonwealth. Her professional interests cover a wide range of library topics, including user research (UX), information literacy, early literacy and reading development, outreach and programming, readers’ advisory, and digital resources. She’s honed her teaching and presentation skills over the course of many years and has taught workshops on topics such as collection development, social media for public libraries, informational text and text complexity, and student research behavior.

Prior to working at MLS, Christi worked as a children’s and teen librarian in Massachusetts public libraries for a decade, and was the Director of the School and Public Library division at a well-known local library vendor. Christi holds a Master’s degree in Language, Reading & Culture from the University of Arizona, as well as a Master’s degree in Library & Information Science from Simmons University. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Library Media Studies graduate program at Salem State University.

+ BIO: David Lazer

David Lazer is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University, and Co-Director, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Prior to coming to Northeastern University, he was on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School (1998-2009). His research has been published in such journals as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Political Science Review, Organization Science, and the Administrative Science Quarterly, and has received extensive coverage in the media, including the New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS Evening News.

He is among the leading scholars in the world on misinformation. He is lead author of the paper in Science in 2014 that critiqued Google Flu Trends, which has emerged as an important piece in the use of big data to understand human behavior. He is lead author on the 2009 Science paper on computational social science, which has been described as the manifesto for the emerging field. His work on algorithmic auditing and online personalization has received wide media coverage. His online experimental work on deliberation garnered best paper of the year in the American Political Science Review. His research on exploration and exploitation has been highly cited within the literature on collective intelligence. He has been PI on more than $13m of grants from the NSF, ARL, ARO, IARPA, and other entities. Dr. Lazer has served in multiple leadership and editorial positions, including as a board member for the International Network of Social Network Analysts (INSNA), reviewing editor for Science, associate editor of Social Networks and Network Science, numerous other editorial boards and program committees.

+ BIO: Joan Donovan

Dr. Donovan is a leading public scholar and disinformation researcher, specializing in media manipulation, political movements, critical internet studies, and online extremism. She is the Research Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and the Director of the Technology and Social Change project (TaSC). Through TaSC, Dr. Donovan explores how media manipulation is a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. TaSC conducts research, develops methods, and facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns.

Dr. Donovan is co-founder of Harvard Kennedy School’s Misinformation Review. Her research can be found in academic peer-reviewed journals such as Social Media + Society, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Information, Communication & Society, and Social Studies of Science. She is a columnist at MIT Technology Review, a regular contributor to the New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and PBS, and is quoted often on radio and in print.

Dr. Donovan has laid out the philosophical frameworks for how to research, report on, and understand this moment in internet history and American politics. Her conceptualizations of strategic silence, meme wars, and media manipulation campaigns provide crucial frameworks for understanding how the US got to this point. She coined many of the terms that the disinformation research field and mainstream media use to understand technology’s impact on society.

Dr. Donovan is the co-creator of the beaver emoji.

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