The Sunday Show: Information Disorder and Who Profits From It

Justin Hendrix / Nov 28, 2021

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Today, we’ve got two conversations about the problem of mis- and disinformation and the degradation of information ecosystems.

In the first segment, Courtney Radsch, a Tech Policy Press contributor and board member, speaks with Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital, a part of the Aspen Institute that just released the final report of the Commission on Information Disorder. And in the second segment, I speak with Karen Hao, senior AI editor at MIT Technology Review about her year reporting on how the business model of social media platforms incentivizes the deterioration of information ecosystems.

First, the Commission on Information Disorder, which released its final report this month, says it aims were to "identify and prioritize the most critical sources and causes of information disorder and deliver a set of short-term actions and longer-term goals to help government, the private sector, and civil society respond to this modern-day crisis of faith in key institutions." The Commission’s final report is available at the Aspen Institute website.

Second, just before Thanksgiving I had the chance to speak with Karen Hao, senior AI editor at MIT Technology Review, where she covers the latest research and social impacts of artificial intelligence. Karen is also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow and a Harvard Technology and Public Purpose fellow. This year, Karen has produced a multiple in-depth reports that look at the problem of social media and mis- and disinformation, and how the business models of the platforms incentivize the problem. She just published an in-depth report titled “How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation,” which says that “the tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.”

If you think you have an idea to address the problem of information disorder, the Aspen Tech Policy Hub-- which collaborates with Tech Policy Press on its New Voices program-- has just launched the Information Disorder Prize Competition. The competition seeks to fund projects that work toward one or more of the Commission’s 15 recommendations. Up to 5 semi-finalists will be awarded $5,000 each to develop prototypes of their deliverables over an 8-week period, after which one team will be awarded a $75,000 grand prize to execute their idea. You can find more information about the prize at the Aspen Tech Policy Hub website.


Justin Hendrix
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & ...