Misinformation, hoaxes, and propaganda are nothing new, but the internet and new technology have made it easier than ever to create and share viral deceptions. The spread of fake information and false stories erodes trust in our democratic institutions and fans the flames of hyper-partisanship.
However, those same tools also give us new opportunities to combat and debunk bad information, and help deliver accurate and trustworthy journalism to more people than ever.
That is why today a coalition of foundations including Democracy Fund, Knight and Rita Allen Foundations are launching a joint fund to support creative ideas to address the question: how might we improve the flow of accurate information?
Democracy Fund is committed to supporting innovative people and ideas that help combat viral deception and reinvigorate trust in the press. We hope this prototype fund sparks creativity and collaboration to ensure our political system is able to deliver on its promise to the American people. We expect to award up to $1 million in grants with an average size of about $50,000. Each grant comes with a two-day training on building and evolving ideas through prototyping.
We understand that these are profoundly complex issues and that people negotiate trust, navigate information, and seek out context in very different ways. We don’t believe there is any one silver-bullet, but instead want to engage a diverse set of stakeholders around these problems. We welcome early stage projects from engineers and educators, librarians and lawyers, and reporters and researchers, and more. Good ideas can come from anywhere so we’ll be reaching out to communities and local newsrooms all across the country—in both rural and urban areas, through red states and blue states, on the coasts and from the middle of the country.
In the press release today our partner foundations write: “The call is seeking diverse ideas on topics ranging from, but not limited to, the role of algorithms in news consumption, methods for separating facts from fiction, building bridges across ideological divides and strategies for ensuring journalism organizations are authentic to the communities they serve.”
Democracy Fund is particularly interested in ideas from diverse communities and local newsrooms around the country, where people are exploring how engagement, transparency, and context are helping sort fact from fiction. Those peddling in misinformation have used the Internet to their advantage, but everyday people show that the web can be a powerful tool for truth as well. It’s time to turn the tables.