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A Call for Ideas Seeks Solutions to Curb the Spread of Misinformation

Solutions Forum and $75,000 in Prizes Will Catalyze Ideas Focusing on Sharing Behavior

March 26, 2018 – What makes misinformation such an urgent problem today is its ability to spread rapidly and pervasively, via social media, online publishing and the 24-hour news cycle. Misinformation goes viral fast—false stories spread significantly farther, faster and deeper than true stories in social media, according to new research. Much attention has been paid to the volume and sources of misinformation, but less well explored are the human behaviors, motivations and decisions that drive the sharing of misinformation.

Today, the Rita Allen Foundation and RTI International are launching a call for ideas to curb the spread of misinformation. The call seeks interventions focused on reducing behaviors that lead to the spread of misinformation or encouraging behaviors that can lead to the minimization of its influence. Proposals for interventions with technological, educational and/or community-based components are encouraged, and projects involving science communication, public health and diverse populations are of special interest.

Up to five ideas will be selected to be featured in the Misinformation Solutions Forum, October 4, 2018, at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. At the forum, the ideas will be further developed with input from academic researchers, technologists, data scientists, journalists, educators, community leaders and funders. 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.

“Given the crucial role that facts and evidence play in a healthy democracy, misinformation poses a major threat,” said Elizabeth Good Christopherson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rita Allen Foundation. “We greatly anticipate gathering ideas and people from many disciplines to explore solutions targeting the behaviors that spread misinformation. Most exciting is the promise of creating new pathways, in this rapidly changing ecosystem of media and culture, for the kind of robust, accurate discourse that can shape a promising future.”

The Misinformation Solutions Forum and call for ideas will build on emerging insights from a number of efforts advanced by the Rita Allen Foundation and other partners, including a Knight Prototype Fund open call for ideas to improve the flow of accurate information; the Building Capacity for Science Communication Partnership Awards offered in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences; and the work of numerous grant partners including First Draft, News Co/Lab, the Social Media and Political Participation Lab, the Center for Media Engagement and the American Press Institute.

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. The call welcomes submissions from a wide array of innovators, including academic researchers, communication and technology professionals, journalists, health professionals, community leaders, advertisers and educators.

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.

The forum and prizes are presented by the Rita Allen Foundation in partnership with RTI International and the Aspen Institute, with additional support provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies and Democracy Fund.

Electronic submissions are due May 31, 2018, and will be judged through a blind review process by a diverse committee of expert judges with individuals from the Rita Allen Foundation as well as external institutions such as Democracy Fund, First Draft, the National Institutes of Health, the Poynter Institute and academic institutions. Ideas selected for participation in the forum will be announced in August.

For more information and to submit an idea, please visit: https://ritaallen.org/misinformation-solutions-for­um


About the Rita Allen Foundation

The Rita Allen Foundation invests in transformative ideas in their earliest stages to leverage their growth and promote breakthrough solutions to significant problems. It enables early-career biomedical scholars to do pioneering research, seeds innovative approaches to fostering informed civic engagement, and develops knowledge and networks to build the effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. For more, visit ritaallen.org.

About RTI International

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit institute that provides research, development and technical services to government and commercial clients worldwide as well as partnering with foundations and philanthropic organizations to generate new ideas. Our mission is to improve the human condition by turning knowledge into practice. For more information, visit rti.org.

About the Health, Medicine and Society Program of the Aspen Institute

The Health, Medicine and Society Program is the domestic health initiative of the Aspen Institute, one of the world’s premier gathering places for leaders to come together to explore the ideals and ideas that define a good society. We emphasize reasoned discussion and analytical rigor, but honor disruptive thinking; seek intersections across disciplines; and go beyond the “usual suspects” in recruiting participants for our events so that diverse voices can be heard. Our goal is to nurture new connections, inspire thoughtful debate, and identify and advance action-oriented strategies to improve the nation’s health.