Misinformation Solutions Forum

PRESS CONTACT: Kate Belyi, kb@ritaallen.org, 609-683-8010

Much of the current discussion of misinformation as a societal concern has highlighted how much inaccurate information is available online or in news media. Yet what makes misinformation a particularly acute problem today is its ability to spread rapidly and pervasively—as people post false advertising or less than credible news stories on social media, highlight fabricated information in conversation with each other, or cite false information when addressing various audiences. Less well explored are the human behaviors and decisions that go into this sharing of misinformation—with a host of potential motivations at play that go beyond a simple lack of knowledge. Behavioral science offers a growing body of knowledge that can be leveraged to curb the sharing of misinformation and, on the other hand, encourage productive sharing and discussion about accurate information. Many other fields hold potential keys to solutions as well—including technology design, public health, journalism, education, health care, community organizing and social science.

On October 4, 2018, a Misinformation Solutions Forum at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., will bring together academic researchers, technology professionals, data scientists, journalists, educators, community leaders and funders to explore up to five promising ideas for curbing the spread of misinformation.

A Call for Ideas

We are now seeking submissions for ideas to be featured in the Misinformation Solutions Forum. Interventions should be focused on reducing behaviors that lead to the spread of misinformation or encouraging behaviors that can lead to the minimization of its influence. We encourage proposals for interventions with technological, educational, and/or community-based components. Projects involving science communication, public health and diverse populations are of special interest.

Ideas should be submitted by teams of at least two people with skills, expertise, experiences and networks that can help their solution take shape and reach key audiences. We welcome submissions from a wide array of innovators, including academic researchers, communication and technology professionals, journalists, health professionals, community leaders, advertisers and educators. Ideas can include plans for primary research, but the research should be designed in collaboration with someone (e.g., a government official, technology professional, or community leader) in the position to put findings into action. Teams must designate a sponsoring U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization able to receive and manage grants on behalf of the team (note that the sponsoring nonprofit is considered the official entrant). All team members and their sponsoring nonprofit organizations should be comfortable with names and professional affiliations being made public if they are selected for forum participation.

Teams whose ideas are selected will receive travel funds for up to two team members to participate in the forum, which will be an opportunity for up to five teams to further hone and develop their ideas with input from a variety of industry professionals, funders and experts. To catalyze further development and deployment of solutions, as part of the forum two of the participating teams will be selected to receive Misinformation Solution Prizes, with a top prize of $50,000 and an additional prize of $25,000. These prizes will recognize the ideas with the most promise to positively shift the information-sharing landscape. While we welcome ideas bringing in an international perspective, to be eligible teams must have a sponsoring U.S.-based nonprofit organization that may receive grant funds. Teams may not include individuals who are currently or formerly employed by the Rita Allen Foundation, RTI International, the Aspen Institute, Democracy Fund or Craig Newmark Philanthropies; are officers or members of their boards; or who have a family member with one of these affiliations.

Submissions are due May 31, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. PDT, and will be judged through a blind review process by a diverse committee of expert judges with representatives from the Rita Allen Foundation, as well as external institutions such as the Democracy Fund, the National Institutes of Health, the Poynter Institute, First Draft and academic institutions. Ideas selected for participation in the forum will be announced in August, and winners of the top prizes will be announced following the forum.

Please contact MisinformationSolutions@ritaallen.org with any questions.

Click Here to Submit an Idea

Related Stories and Resources

The Search for Solutions to Curb Misinformation
Rita Allen Foundation | April 9, 2018
A perspective and call to action from Elizabeth Good Christopherson, the Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer

Why We Lie to Ourselves and Others about Misinformation
Trust, Media and Democracy | March 28, 2018
A commentary by Brian Southwell, Program Director of the Science in the Public Sphere program at RTI International

Press Release: A Call for Ideas Seeks Solutions to Curb the Spread of Misinformation
March 26, 2018

Social Media, Political Polarization, and Political Disinformation: A Review of the Scientific Literature
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation | March 19, 2018

Science Magazine
March 9, 2018
Cover story highlights the research report “The spread of true and false news online;” also includes a Policy Forum piece on “The science of fake news,” focusing on the need for interdisciplinary research

Understanding and Addressing the Disinformation Ecosystem
First Draft | March 8, 2018
Takeaways from a December 2017 convening at the Annenberg School for Communication, including a paper on “Using Behavioral Theory to Curb Misinformation Sharing” by Brian Southwell and Vanessa Boudewyns of RTI International

Civic Science
Rita Allen Foundation | March 2018
An evolving collection of research, resources and perspectives on the intersection of science and civic life

A Field Guide to “Fake News” and Other Information Disorders
Public Data Lab and First Draft | January 8, 2018

The Persistence and Peril of Misinformation
American Scientist | November-December 2017
Brian Southwell, Emily Thorson and Laura Sheble outline challenges to battling falsehoods.

NAS Announces Awards for Building Capacity for Science Communication Partnerships
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine | July 14, 2017
Awards to support partnerships of science communication researchers and practitioners and facilitate collaborative projects on approaches to promoting vaccination and communicating science to policymakers

Knight Prototype Fund Awards $1 Million to 20 Projects to Improve the Flow of Accurate Information
Knight Foundation | June 22, 2017
Projects were selected from an open call for ideas from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation to address concerns about the spread of misinformation and produce ways to build trust in journalism.