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$6 million IU center to study the effects of misinformation spread on social media



Social media transformed how humans communicate with each other, with billions of pieces of information sent everyday. Now IU scientists will study the effects of social media in a new $6 million center.

IU’s Observatory on Social Media is a collaboration between the IU Network Science Institute, the Media School and School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, according to a press release. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that supports journalism and the arts across the United States, donated $3 million to the center. 

The center is part of the Knight Foundation’s $50 million investment into projects that research the role of technology in democracies. 

According to the release, the center will research how information and misinformation are spread online as well as provide students, journalists and citizens resources on how to identify and fight misinformation and attempts to sway public opinion online. 

The center will also create a new master’s degree program for data journalism and create new technology to study the abuse of social media. It will expand upon the work already done by computer science and informatics professor Filippo Menczer and the IU Network Science Institute.

"This new center comes at a time when there has never been more confusion about news: its sources, its accuracy, its effect on the public," Media School dean James Shanahan said in the release. "Bringing journalists and students into contact with the best technology for assessing news legitimacy and accuracy will be an important step forward in the evolution of journalism in a new media environment."

Shanahan will be a co-leader of the center along with faculty from the Media School and the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering as well as staff from the IU Network Science Institute.

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