Misinformation Speaker Series 2018-2019

Co-sponsored by:



Claire Wardle


Harvard University, Shorenstein Center 

Research Fellow, Information Disorder Project, Shorenstein Center  
Bio and more information here.

October 22 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 
Wexner 434AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government  

Watch the full event here: 

Joshua Tucker


New York University

Professor of Politics, NYU; Director, Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia 
Bio and more information here. 

Professor Tucker will review findings from two research projects: 

(1) Trumping Hate on Twitter: Measuring the prevalence of online hate speech, with an application to the 2016 U.S. election

Abstract: Despite a growing body of research devoted to defining and detecting online hate speech and extremist rhetoric, the existing scientific literature lacks a systematic framework for assessing how the content and popularity of these harmful messages change over time. We offer a new approach to measuring the real-time prevalence of online hate, using both context-specific data and data produced by a large random sample of users; employing multiple methods of text classification; and measuring not only the volume, but also the proportion, and number of unique users producing it. Here we apply our framework to test the widely-held proposition that Donald Trump's divisive 2016 campaign and election has popularized online hate speech and white nationalist rhetoric in the American Twittersphere. Highlighting the need for such a systematic approach---contrary to the conventional wisdom---our analysis of over one billion tweets demonstrates that online hate did not become more popular on Twitter either over the course of the campaign or in the aftermath of Trump's election.

(2) "Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook"

Abstract: So-called ``fake news'' has renewed concerns about the prevalence and effects of misinformation in political campaigns. Given the potential for widespread dissemination of this material, we examine the individual-level characteristics associated with sharing false articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. To do so, we uniquely link an original survey with respondents' sharing activity as recorded in Facebook profile data. First and foremost, we find that sharing this content was a relatively rare activity. Conservatives were more likely to share articles from fake news domains, which in 2016 were largely pro-Trump in orientation, than liberals or moderates. We also find a strong age effect, which persists after controlling for partisanship and ideology: on average, users over 65 shared nearly 7 times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.

November 2 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 

Wexner 434AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government 
Watch the full event here: 

Kathleen Hall Jamieson


University of Pennsylvania

Professor of Communication, UPenn; Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center
Bio and more information here. 
TITLE: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President
Abstract: In this lecture, Kathleen Hall Jamieson will marshal the troll posts, unique polling data, analyses of how the press used the hacked content, and a synthesis of half a century of media effects research to argue that, although not certain, it is probable that the Russians helped elect the 45th president of the United States.
November 7 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 
Rubenstein 414AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government

Takis Metaxas


Wellesley College

Professor of Computer Science, Wellesley College; Faculty Director, The Albright Institute
Bio and more information here.
November 28 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 

Wexner 434AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government 

Watch full event here:


Will Stevens

Will Stevens

U.S. Department of State

Director of the Public Diplomacy Division, Foreign Service Institute

December 10 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 
Adams House, "Lower Common Room," 26 Plympton Street, Harvard University
Abstract: Stevens will focus on “Adversarial Narratives” and their use by states, non-state actors, and domestic political parties. He’ll also speak about his work training U.S. diplomats to represent the United States in challenging times, American influence around the world, and how public diplomacy intersects with disinformation, social media, and Hybrid/Gray Zone warfare. (More information regarding this talk is available here.)
Bio: Will Stevens began work as the Director of the Foreign Service Institute’s Public Diplomacy (PD) Training Division in June 2017. Mr. Stevens is an experienced PD-coned Foreign Service Officer with overseas experience in Russia, Turkmenistan, Israel, and Belarus, as well as experience in Washington in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Bureau of African Affairs. He received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy in 2014 for his work leading the U.S. Government’s Interagency Task Force on countering Russian propaganda during the Ukraine crisis. Mr. Stevens joined FSI from the Bureau of African Affairs, where he was a Senior Advisor on countering violent extremism. He previously worked in the Africa Bureau as Bureau Spokesperson, where he directed the public affairs planning and messaging for the 2014 U.S.-Africa Heads of State Summit, which brought together 50 African leaders in Washington for the first time. Mr. Stevens was the Spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 2014-2016, where his team’s work was recognized in the Public Diplomacy Council’s annual “Ten Best” for the “Best Use of Social Media by an Embassy.” He has also served as Chief of Staff at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, chief of public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan, and in the press and cultural affairs offices at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Adam Berinsky



Mitsui Professor of Political Science, MIT; Director, MIT Political Experiments Research Lab
Bio and more information here. 

February 13 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM
Wexner 434AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government

Leticia Bode


Georgetown University

Associate Professor, Communication, Culture, and Technology Program, Georgetown University
Bio and more information here. 
March 27 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 
Wexner 434AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government  

TITLE: Wrong Again: Correction of Health Misinformation in Social Media 

Abstract: Health misinformation is a growing problem on social media - it spreads quickly, and has implications for both personal behaviors and public health. But social media also offers a unique context for correcting misinformation. Our research agenda explores this potential, considering who can effectively correct health misinformation on social media and under what circumstances. For this talk I will present on several experiments, including published work and some of our newest findings. 

Deen Freelon


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Associate Professor, School of Media and Journalism, UNC Chapel Hill
Bio and more information here.

April 17 , 11:30 AM- 1:00 PM 
Wexner 434AB, John F. Kennedy School of Government  
ABSTRACT. The recent rise of black propaganda and information warfare on social media has attracted strong interest from political communication scholars. Of particular concern is the practice of disinformational sockpuppetry, in which agents of foreign governments (including Russia and Iran) disguise themselves as American citizens on social media and attempt to participate in everyday political conversations. Their goal appears to be to inject turmoil into these conversations and increase polarization between politically attentive citizens. This research contributes to the growing literature on contemporary digital disinformation in two ways. First, we document the efficacy of disinformational sockpuppetry by analyzing 5.2 million tweets produced by a Kremlin-funded disinformation outlet called the Internet Research Agency (IRA). We measure the prevalence and activity of various types of IRA sockpuppet identities and show that some receive disproportionately more attention than others. Second, we demonstrate that these activity levels were largely the result of interactions with authentic social media users rather than communications between IRA agents.

Miriam Metzger


University of California, Santa Barbara

Professor, Comm & Info Technologies, Department of Communication, UCSB
Bio and more information here.

April 25 , 12:00 - 1:30 PM 

Taubman 5th Floor, Nye A, John F. Kennedy School of Government