New research center gets local and national media coverage

July 31, 2019

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently announced the creation of the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), a new research iniatiative led by faculty from the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), UNC School of Media and Journalism, UNC Department of Communication, and UNC Center for Media and Law Policy. CITAP received a $5 million gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and additional $750,000 contribution from Luminate and $600,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

News of CITAP's launch and Knight's support - part of a $50 million investment to develop a new field of research around technology’s impact on democracy - caught the attention of news media outlets across the Triangle and the country. Scroll down for links and highlights from some of the media coverage.

What’s the line between news and misinformation? UNC is working to find out - Russ Bowen (WNCN) Jul 31, 2019 - How do those articles and posts that seem to fall in line with a person’s values and ideals find them on social media? How about the fake stories meant to prey on a person’s fears? Who’s keeping track of all this? The newly formed and funded UNC Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life is starting to study how it works and how to better control it. Dr. Zeynep Tufekci and Dr. Deen Freelon are helping to lead the effort at UNC.

New UNC Center to Research Technology’s Impact on Democracy - Brighton McConnell (WCHL) Jul 24, 2019 - The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life will look to discover empirical numbers on ways technologies impact and interact with society. Topics like fake news, the sales of data to advertisers, social media influence on political elections and the entire information environment are all key issues that will be researched.

Researching Democracy in the Digital Age - Lindsay McKenzie (Inside Higher Ed) July 24, 2019 - Leaders at the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit organization best known for supporting journalism and the media, this week announced $50 million in funding for 11 universities and research institutions to support research exploring how social media is influencing democracy. Half of the funding will be used to create new cross-disciplinary research centers at Carnegie Mellon University, George Washington University, New York University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington.

New UNC center to study information in the digital age - Will Michaels (WUNC) Jul 24, 2019 - School of Information and Library Science Dean and Professor Gary Marchionini discusses the new Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life.

The Technology 202: Knight Foundation invests $50 million into research on tech's impact on democracy - Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) July 22, 2019 - A nonprofit with deep ties to the newspaper industry is investing $50 million into research on technology's impact on democracy — from countering online disinformation to how companies such as Facebook and YouTube impact public opinion… The foundation plans to stand up long-term research centers on the intersection of technology and politics at five universities: Carnegie Mellon University, George Washington University, New York University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is also investing in several of the centers.

UNC to launch research focused on effects of social media, 'fake news' - Seth Gulledge (Triangle Business Journal) July 22, 2019 - As social media becomes a dominant source of news and information, new funding will allow UNC-Chapel Hill to study the impacts of the growing cultural phenomenon.

Fake news?: New UNC Chapel Hill Center plans to investigate, keep it real - WRAL Tech Wire July 22, 2019 - Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, rumors, fake news. “We’re in a time where anyone can create information and put it out on the internet,” said Alice Marwick, UNC Chapel Hill’s assistant professor of communication.

Counteracting fake news and privacy invasions: UNC center set to examine digital life - Preston Lennon (Daily Tar Heel) July 22, 2019 - In a digital landscape ripe with questions about privacy, regulations for social media platforms and uncertainty about how consumer data is being used, UNC established the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life — hoping to gather empirical data on some of the 21st century’s underlying phenomena.

Knight Foundation to invest $50 million to strengthen democracy in the digital age - David Neal (Miami Herald) July 22, 2019 - The Knight Foundation will give $5 million each to the following universities that are creating cross-disciplinary research programs analyzing the impact that social media and big data are having on democracy and politics: Carnegie Mellon; George Washington; NYU; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Washington.