BLOOMINGTON — Indiana University plans to establish a $6 million center to research the spread of misinformation on social media.
The Observatory on Social Media will provide data and training to identify attempts to intentionally manipulate public opinion, according to a news release from IU. It will expand on an existing project from the IU Network Science Institute and the lab of Filippo Menczer, a professor in the IU School Informatics, Computing and Engineering.
Menczer will be the observatory’s director.
The observatory’s mission includes advancing research on topics such as the long-term impact of social media in areas without access to strong local news, and why some news consumers are unable tor ecognize trustworthy sources of information. The observatory will study how journalists can use data to write stories that are resilient to manipulation.
Other goals of the observatory include creating new technologies to analyze how misinformation is spread, and to differentiate between social media accounts run by real people and those run by bots.
Funding will come from the university and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Foundation will provide $3 million for the observatory as part of a $50 million commitment to build a new field of research around technology’s impact on democracy. IU is one of 11 institutions receiving support to create or expand research centers focused on better understanding the future of democracy in a digital age.