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. Joan Donovan is Director of the Technology and Social Change (TaSC) Research Project at the Shorenstein Center. Dr. Donovan leads the field in examining internet and technology studies, online extremism, media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns.

Dr. Donovan’s research and teaching interests are focused on media manipulation, effects of disinformation campaigns, and adversarial media movements.

Dr. Donovan’s research can be found in academic peer-reviewed journals such as Social Media + Society, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (JCE), Information, Communication & Society, Social Studies of Science, and Online Information Review. Her contributions can also be found in the books, Data Science Landscape: Towards Research Standards and Protocols and Unlike Us Reader: Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives. Dr. Donovan’s research and expertise has been showcased in a wide array of media outlets including NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, and more.

Prior to joining Harvard Kennedy School, Dr. Donovan was the Research Lead for Data & Society’s Media Manipulation Initiative, where she led a large team of researchers studying efforts to manipulate sociotechnical systems for political gain. She continues to hold an affiliate appointment with Data & Society.

Dr. Donovan received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Science Studies from the University of California San Diego, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, where she studied white supremacists’ use of DNA ancestry tests, social movements, and technology.

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