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Knight Foundation awards $50 million to study tech’s impact on democracy

ImpactAlpha, July 23 – Arts and journalism-focused Knight Foundation is committing $50 million to 11 university research projects that explore technology’s influence on democracy and and civic trust.

The funding comes as tech giants are coming under political scrutiny for their size, use of data and roles as arbiters of information (and misinformation), both on the campaign trail and in congress.

“We are flying blind,” Knight’s Sam Gill said, adding in a blog post that “the absence of good ideas, backed by sound knowledge, is palpable. Solutions are needed, but they must be driven and supported by new ideas, new evidence and new knowledge.”

Five of the projects Knight is backing are cross-disciplinary studies, with a heavy emphasis on fighting disinformation, like Carnegie Mellon University’s research on information manipulation through online platforms and University of Washington’s study on how misinformation and disinformation flow through information systems.

Knight’s $50 million is part of a $300 million initiative investing in journalism and democracy. The foundation is planning to commit an additional $11 million later this year.

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