The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is pledging $3.5 million to study the impact of technology on media and democracy.
Twenty-two universities, think tanks and advocacy organizations will study various topics, such as content moderation by social-media companies, antitrust enforcement in big tech, and the problem of disinformation online, according to the foundation.
The organizations were chosen through an open funding opportunity. The Knight Foundation called for proposals to fund research around the rules, norms and governance of the internet and digital platforms.
The investments are part of the Knight Foundation’s nearly $50 million commitment to support research on how technology is transforming democracy and impacting how people are informed.
“These issues are moving faster than we can evaluate and analyze them,” stated Sam Gill, vice president at Knight Foundation. “We need to close the knowledge gap — if our society is going to make smart decisions about how to ensure technology strengthens democracy rather than weakening it.”
Knight’s investment in this space will “ensure that a diverse range of views and a body of real evidence informs urgent policy debates,” Gill added.
The foundation cited recent hearings held at the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on issues of “market power, antitrust, technology companies’ use of algorithms and their accountability in enabling online extremism and violence,” as well as investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice into “the competition and business practices of several tech companies.”See the full list of organizations receiving grants and their areas of research here.