IDDP: Understanding Digital Media Influence on our Democracy

IDDP: Understanding Digital Media Influence on our Democracy

Our Mission

 

The Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics (IDDP)’s mission is to help the public, journalists, and policymakers understand digital media’s influence on public dialogue and opinion, and to develop sound solutions to disinformation and other ills that arise in these spaces.

 

 

 

About Us

In the heart of the nation's capital, IDDP brings together top researchers from across academic disciplines, works side-by-side with and informs journalists from leading media outlets, advises and helps agenda set with policymakers in the U.S. and Europe, and engages with a variety of organizations that have significant societal influence and reach.

This work is of vital importance in an age when media manipulation, fake accounts, and malicious social media activities are undermining fundamental aspects of societal cohesion and democratic ideals. Abuse, harassment, hate speech, and disinformation abound, with foreign and domestic actors alike taking advantage of key features of digital platforms to target vulnerable and marginalized members of society.

About us

 


Taiwan’s Disinformation War
A webinar on combating disinformation from Taiwan’s 2020 election to the COVID-19 pandemic

What We Do

 

 

 

Research

Research

Institute researchers produce timely publications about the threat to democracy posed by digital propaganda and deception and contribute to academic journals with new scholarships.

Convene

Convene

The Institute brings together a team of leading interdisciplinary researchers from around the world under one roof and organizes events on new disinformation research.

Educate

Educate

The institute collaborates with the Poynter Institute and its PolitiFact project to offer trainings on the misinformation landscape and how to correct false information with fact-checking journalism.

 

Research Cluster: Network Modeling

Network Modeling

 

 


Mapping the structure of digital networks and online group relationships.

Research Clusters: Investigations

Investigations

 

Conducting research on specific cases of pernicious content to help produce high-impact news articles.

 

Featured

Joint Event with Politifact

Buzzfeed News - Coronaviruse email scam

 

Presidential Communication in Times of Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding the origin, scale, prevention and treatment of the disease. This panel discusses how presidential administrations communicate with the public in times of uncertainty and crisis. Former White House Press Secretaries Ari Fleischer and Joe Lockhart provide perspectives from previous administrations. Politifact Editor-in-Chief Angie Holan and IDDP researcher Ethan Porter help us understand the importance of fact-checking false claims coming from presidents and other authority figures.

Watch the full discussion

iddp in the news

publications, events, news and media

publications

IEEE Xplore logo

Quantifying COVID-19 content in the online health opinion war using machine learning

A huge amount of potentially dangerous COVID-19 misinformation is appearing online. Here we use machine learning to quantify COVID-19 content among online opponents of establishment health guidance, in particular vaccinations ("anti-vax"). We find that the anti-vax community is developing a less focused debate around COVID-19 than its counterpart, the pro-vaccination (“pro-vax”) community. However, the anti-vax community exhibits a broader range of “flavors” of COVID-19 topics, and hence can appeal to a broader cross-section of individuals seeking COVID-19 guidance online, e.g. individuals wary of a mandatory fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccine or those seeking alternative remedies.
Nature logo

The online competition between pro- and anti-vaccination views

Distrust in scientific expertise is dangerous. Opposition to vaccination with a future vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent of COVID-19, for example, could amplify outbreaks as happened for measles in 2019. Homemade remedies and falsehoods are being shared widely on the Internet, as well as dismissals of expert advice. There is a lack of understanding about how this distrust evolves at the system level. Here we provide a map of the contention surrounding vaccines that has emerged from the global pool of around three billion Facebook users. Its core reveals a multi-sided landscape of unprecedented intricacy that involves nearly 100 million individuals partitioned into highly dynamic, interconnected clusters across cities, countries, continents and languages. Although smaller in overall size, anti-vaccination clusters manage to become highly entangled with undecided clusters in the main online network, whereas pro-vaccination clusters are more peripheral.
OSF Preprints logo

Misinformation on the Facebook News Feed: Experimental Evidence

As concerns about the spread of misinformation have mounted, scholars have found that fact-checks can reduce the extent to which people believe misinformation. Whether this finding extends to social media is unclear. Social media is a high-choice environment in which the cognitive effort required to separate truth from fiction, individuals' penchant for select exposure, and motivated reasoning may render fact checks ineffective. Furthermore, large social media companies have not permitted external researchers to administer experiments on their platforms. To investigate whether fact-checking can rebut misinformation on social media, we administer two experiments using a novel platform designed to closely mimic Facebook's news feed.

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events

Presidential Communication in Times of Crisis

Presidential Communication in Times of Crisis

Monday, April 27, 2020 - 1:00pm
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding the origin, scale, prevention and treatment of the disease. This panel discusses how presidential administrations communicate with the public in times of uncertainty and crisis. Former White House Press Secretaries Ari Fleischer and Joe Lockhart provide perspectives from previous administrations. Politifact Editor-in-Chief Angie Holan and IDDP researcher Ethan Porter help us understand the importance of fact-checking false claims coming from presidents and other authority figures.
BuzzFeed editor Craig Silverman

Is Russia Renting Your Aunt’s Facebook Profile?

Monday, February 24, 2020 - 3:00pm
The infrastructure of online media—complex, poorly regulated and constantly evolving—is ripe for exploitation as the United States approaches its 2020 presidential election, journalist Craig Silverman warned Tuesday at the George Washington University.
Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics Hosts Panel on Digital Discourse

Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics Hosts Panel on Digital Discourse

Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 12:00pm
Technology experts hosted by the George Washington University’s Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics (IDDP) said at a panel Sunday that digital behavior has transformative real-world effects requiring careful interdisciplinary study.

iddp in the news

Knight Foundation logo

Study shows how misinformation spreads online and fuels distrust

A recent study by physicist and Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics affiliate Neil Johnson explores how the views of anti-vaccine groups tend to spread more widely on social media than pro-vaccination views, increasing the chances of reaching people who are undecided on the subject. Professor Johnson’s model predicts continued growth of anti-vaccine sentiment on Facebook and other social networks, which could affect how widely a COVID-19 vaccination is embraced.
Time logo

There Isn't a COVID-19 Vaccine Yet. But Some Are Already Skeptical About It

Amid the American flags, “Make America Great Again” hats and “freedom is essential” posters appearing at recent protests against coronavirus lockdowns in Sacramento, Calif., another familiar slogan has materialized: “We do not consent.” It’s long been a popular rallying cry among antivaccine activists, who claim without evidence that vaccines cause autism or other conditions. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, those activists have become intertwined with demonstrators who want businesses to reopen despite public health experts’ warnings.