Why We Invested
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. In partnership with the Knight Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation, we are 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. 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.
Out of the twenty total organizations receiving Prototype Fund grants, Democracy Fund supported four specific projects:
Viz Lab (Project leads: Caroline Sinders | San Francisco | @carolinesinders, Susie Cagle | Oakland | @susie_c, Francis Tseng | Brooklyn | @frnsys): Developing a dashboard to track and visualize images and ‘memes,’ as common sources of fake news, to enable journalists and researchers to more easily understand the origins of the image, its promoters, and where it might have been altered and then redistributed.
The Documenters Project by City Bureau (Project lead: Darryl Holliday | Chicago | @d_holli, @city_bureau): Strengthening local media coverage and building trust in journalism by creating an online network of citizen “documenters” who receive training in the use of journalistic ethics and tools, attend public civic events, and produce short summaries that are posted online as a public resource. City Bureau will create and test a field manual to help others replicate the model.
Hoaxy Bot-o-Meter by Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (Project lead: Filippo Menczer | Bloomington, Indiana | @Botometer, @truthyatindiana): Developing a tool to uncover attempts to use Internet bots to boost the spread of misinformation and shape public opinion. The tool aims to reveal how this information is generated and broadcasted, how it becomes viral, its overall reach, and how it competes with accurate information for placement on user feeds.
Media Literacy @ Your Library by American Library Association in collaboration with the Center for News Literacy (Project lead: Samantha Oakley | Chicago | @ALALibrary, @NewsLiteracy): Developing an adult media literacy program in five public libraries, including a series of online learning sessions, resources, and an in-person workshop to train library workers to help patrons become more informed media consumers.
How to Get Involved
The deadline for applications is April 3rd at 5pm ET. Click here to read a FAQ for more information or apply today. Read more about our approach to this Fund here and learn about the all of the winners of the 2017 Prototype Fund here!