Table of Contents

TitleAuthor
Thank You!Berkman
Truthiness Video ClipsBerkman
Doing Something About Truthiness in Politics and NewsCraig Newmark
Three Social TheoremsPanagiotis "Takis" Metaxas
Seeing the World Through Truth-Colored GlassesJim Fingal
Truthicon in the MediaBerkman
Truthiness as Probability: Moving Beyond the True or False Dichotomy when Verifying Social MediaPatrick Meier
Truthy Research: From the Day 2 Hackathon at the Truthiness ConferenceAaron Shaw
Values Ads: A Way to Reframe Contested Facts for Unreceptive Audiences, and to Reach them OnlineJ. Nathan Matias and Chris Mooney
Hacking for Truth, Whatever That is: Ideas to Fight MisinformationAndrew Phelps
Motivation and TruthinessNatalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud
Let’s Combine Forces and Build a Credibility APIMatt Stempeck
Propaganda in Bahrain, SyriaJillian C. York
Interventions for Institutions: Filters, Intermediaries, and PoliciesBerkman
Interventions for IndividualsBerkman
Reflection and SynthesisBerkman
Facts Are Boring [podcast]Daniel Jones
New Genres of Political InformationMuzammil M. Hussain, PhC
Corporatocracy & Manufacturing ConsentPrathima Manohar
Tweets, TV & PoliticsWilliam Powers
Biases Abound: We Can’t Handle (or Don’t Want) the Truth / Inflection PointBerkman
Elusive Objectivity: Finding the Truth is HardBerkman
New Media 360Berkman
A Morning of Provocation: Defining the Dimensions of the ProblemBerkman
Portraying SourcesJudith Donath
A Tale of Three RumorsGilad Lotan
Moving Towards Algorithmic CorroborationNicholas Diakopoulos
Why Facts Matter to the American IdeaKate Krontiris
Okay, what are we going to do about it?Craig Newmark
Information Forensics: Five Case Studies on How to Verify Crowdsourced Information from Social MediaPatrick Meier
Can We Make Fact as Convenient as Fiction?Matt Stempeck
On Truthiness and Trust: Teens, Trust, and ICT’sDenise E. Agosto
Infographic: What News Sources Do People Trust?Craig Newmark
When the News Comes from Political TweetbotsEni Mustafaraj
Ask a Good QuestionMicah L. Sifry
I’m Not a Real Activist, But I Play One on the InternetTim Hwang
So, Who Signs Your Paycheck?John Dunbar
Misinformation and Propaganda in CyberspacePanagiotis "Takis" Metaxas
About Truthiness in Digital MediaBerkman

Thank You!

Dear All,

Many thanks for your participation in our “Truthiness in Digital Media” Symposium and Hack Day on March 6-7. It was an exciting opportunity to advance a shared understanding of the challenges of discerning trustworthiness, bad facts and framing, and to consider our own biases in the context of the increasingly complicated networked media ecosystem. Our progress was fueled by diverse and talented group of people who lead and engaged in the sessions. Indeed, we offer our most hearty thanks for your insights, energy and commitment. Continue reading

Truthiness Video Clips

Here are some of the video clips from the conference. We will continue to update the page as we upload more clips, so stay tuned! (Video clips also linked to the Agenda page)

  • Wendell Potter on Deadly Spin

Continue reading

Doing Something About Truthiness in Politics and News

About the Author:

Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark is an Internet entrepreneur best known for being the founder of the Craigslist.

Recently, the folks at the Harvard Berkman Center and the MIT Media Lab had a really good conference and hackathon addressing Truthiness in Digital Media. That’s in the Stephen Colbert sense, where people make up stuff which they want to be true. A lot of good progress was reported, particularly involving citizens and professionals working together to do serious factchecking. Continue reading

Three Social Theorems

About the Author:

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas is a Professor of Computer Science and Founder of the Media Arts and Sciences Program at Wellesley College.

Dear Readers,

Below are my annotated notes of a talk I gave at Berkman’s Truthiness in Digital Media Symposium a few weeks ago. I introduced the concept of Social Theorems, as a way of formulating the findings of the research that is happening the last few years in the study of Social Media. Continue reading

Seeing the World Through Truth-Colored Glasses

About the Author:

Jim Fingal

Jim Fingal

Jim Fingal is the co-author of the book The Lifespan of a Fact, a book Publishers Weekly describes as “very apropos in our era of spruced-up autobiography and fabricated reporting,” adding that “this is a whip-smart, mordantly funny, thought-provoking rumination on journalistic responsibility and literary license.” He worked several years as a fact-checker and editorial assistant at The Believer and McSweeneys, where he worked on the titlesWhat is the What, Surviving Justice, Voices from the Storm, and others. He currently lives in Cambridge and works as a software developer.

At the Truthiness in Digital Media conference, co-hosted by the Berkman Center for the Internet & Society and MIT’s Center for Civic Media, one fact was eminent — there are a lot of innovative people out there putting together technical resources to make it easier to combat Truthiness and misinformation, in media digital or otherwise. Continue reading

Truthiness as Probability: Moving Beyond the True or False Dichotomy when Verifying Social Media

About the Author:

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier (PhD) is the Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi and the co-Founder of the Crisis Mappers Network.

I asked the following question at the Berkman Center’s recent Symposium on Truthiness in Digital Media: “Should we think of truthiness in terms of probabili-ties rather than use a True or False dichotomy?” The wording here is important. The word “truthiness” already suggests a subjective fuzziness around the term. Expressing truthiness as probabilities provides more contextual information than does a binary true or false answer. Continue reading

Truthy Research: From the Day 2 Hackathon at the Truthiness Conference

About the Author:

Aaron Shaw

Aaron Shaw

Aaron is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on political and economic dimensions of collective action online.

As part of the Truthiness hackathon, a group of us wanted to design empirical studies to investigate how (mis)information works and how it effects people’s behavior. After some brainstorming, we decided to focus on the following three topics: Continue reading

Values Ads: A Way to Reframe Contested Facts for Unreceptive Audiences, and to Reach them Online

About the Author:

J. Nathan Matias and Chris Mooney

J. Nathan Matias and Chris Mooney

J. Nathan Matias is a research assistant at the MIT Center for Civic Media and Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, blogger, podcaster, and experienced trainer of scientists in the art of communication.

The Theory

Mounting evidence from a variety of fields—psychology, political science, communications–suggests that facts, alone, rarely suffice to change minds in contested areas. Rather, this research suggests that different “frames” or “narratives” can make contested facts appear more or less threatening, depending upon the context in which those facts are embedded. What seems to matter most for persuasion, then, is whether particular facts are framed in such a way as to support, or challenge, one’s personal and political values. Continue reading

Hacking for Truth, Whatever That is: Ideas to Fight Misinformation

About the Author:

Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps is a staff writer at the Nieman Journalism Lab. He is also the inventor of Fuego, a magical app (and Twitter feed) for keeping up with the future of news.

After a day of deliberating on Big Ideas — what is truth? how do we defeat its adversaries? what if they’re robots? — the academics and technologists at the Truthiness in Digital Media conference gathered Wednesday at M.I.T. to drum up real-world solutions to tractable problems. (The conference, co-hosted by Harvard’s Berkman Center and the Center for Civic Media, generated a lot of interesting blog posts. I live-blogged the event here.) Continue reading

Motivation and Truthiness

About the Author:

Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Assistant Director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation at University of Texas at Austin.

As I’m flying home after such a stimulating conference, my mind is swirling with new ideas and a keen interest in learning what the symposium participants do next. In reflecting on the discussion, an idea that I keep returning to is the role of motivation. Continue reading

Let’s Combine Forces and Build a Credibility API

About the Author:

Matt Stempeck

Matt Stempeck

Matt Stempeck is a researcher at the Center for Civic Media at MIT Media Lab. He's building LazyTruth with the help of two friends (and all-around geniuses), Justin Nowell and Stefan Fox.

The last two days of the Truthiness conference, co-hosted by the Berkman Center for the Internet & Society and MIT’s Center for Civic Media, exposed a rich cross-section of people, research, and applications dedicated to fighting misinformation in its many forms. We spent the day Tuesday discussing the wide world of facts and falsehoods, with an embarrassing collection of brains on hand to inform us on the history, cognitive psychology, and best practices of encouraging a healthy respect for reality. The challenge ahead, now that all the mini eclairs are gone, is to convert the goodwill, knowledge, and collaboration generated by this conference into a united front against delusion. Here’s my pitch. Continue reading

Propaganda in Bahrain, Syria

About the Author:

Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is the Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She writes regularly about free expression, politics, and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world.

During the uprisings that swept Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, digital activists’ main adversary were their governments which, in the case of the former, censored scores of websites and conducted man-in-the-middle attacks on Facebook users and, in the case of the latter, shut down the Internet entirely after two days of protests shook the capital. Continue reading

Facts Are Boring [podcast]

About the Author:

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones is the Berkman Center's Digital Media Producer and producer of Radio Berkman

On the podcast for Radio Berkman we tear apart the difference between Truth, Fact, and Evidence, and the quiet, but irreplaceable, role of the humble factchecker in our media:

  • Author/factchecker Jim Fingal on the Lifespan of a Fact
  • Former GQ intern and factchecker Gillian Brassil on how factcheckers get paid to watch True Blood
  • Veteran Atlantic Monthly factchecking department head Yvonne Rolzhausen on the underinvestment of media resources for factchecking
  • David Weinberger, author of the recent book Too Big To Know on what a fact is and why they don’t make for good storytelling

Listen: or download | …also in Ogg

New Genres of Political Information

About the Author:

Muzammil M. Hussain, PhC

Muzammil M. Hussain, PhC

Department of Communication, University of Washington / @m_m_hussain on Twitter

Problematic aspects of the democratization of truth in digital media are directly related to the leveling of gatekeeping actors in political communication environments. At the University of Washington, collaborating with the Department of Communication and the Information School researchers, we have tracked the most important viral election videos in 2008 (278 million views) and the “known-universe” of blogs linking (13,000 links) to them. This meta-database has allowed us to examine many aspects of networked gatekeeping (see: www.retroV.org for latest findings). Continue reading

Corporatocracy & Manufacturing Consent

About the Author:

Prathima Manohar

Prathima Manohar

Prathima Manohar is the Founder & President of the Urbanism think tank “The Urban Vision”. Prathima is an architect, critic, writer and a TV Journalist.

One of the key arguments put forth by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman in their seminal thesis “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988) and Chomsky’s classic “Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies,” (1989) was that media as for- profit entities will aid and advance the interests of the elites of a society who control these institutions. Continue reading

Tweets, TV & Politics

About the Author:

William Powers

William Powers

William Powers is a former Washington Post staff writer, an award-winning media critic and author of the New York Times Bestseller, Hamlet's BlackBerry. He is Director of the Bluefin Labs Election Project.

If there’s any place where trustworthy information is scarce it’s in politics. Everyone knows how candidates change their own stories while distorting those of their opponents. In an election race, it’s standard operating procedure to view the facts as endlessly malleable. Continue reading