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Robert Faris, Harvard University

Robert Faris
Robert Faris.

Disinformation and Polarization in American Political Discourse

Robert Faris is the research director at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. His current work includes applied research into the networked public sphere and the monitoring and measurement of Internet activity and content controls, as well as research into the phenomenon of harmful speech online. He is the author along with Yochai Benkler and Hal Roberts of Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. He holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Abstract: This presentation explores the roots of the epistemic crisis in political discourse in the United States drawing on empirical research into the networked public sphere, which examines the shape, composition, and practices of the American political media landscape. We describe the highly polarized media ecosystem in the United States and the vulnerabilities to disinformation that arise from these structures. We discuss the threats to media and democracy related to foreign interference, behavioral microtargeting, social media algorithms, political clickbait, hackers, sockpuppets, and trolls.