ToTs & TIP


Friday, April 14, 2017, 10:30am to 12:00pm


CGIS Knafel K354

This is the schedule of weekly talks on Technology Science from expert researchers, public interest groups, and others on the social impact of technology and its unforseen consequences.



Propaganda, Misinformation, "Fake News", and what to do about it


Recently, "fake news" has become a term used daily by laymen and the President alike, to indicate lies and propaganda presented as news — but it is not a brand new phenomenon. Rather, its novelty lies in its omnipresence due to social media technologies. But how prevalent is fake news, how severe is the challenge it presents?

In this talk we will first review the history of efforts to influence public opinion and elections through web spam and online social media. We will study examples of successful Google bombs and Twitter bombs that been detonated in cyberspace in the last decade. We will also describe our online rumor-monitoring system,, which tracks the diffusion of rumors on Twitter. We will end by discussing why this problem, despite being enabled by and gaining prominence through online technologies, cannot be solved by technical approaches alone.

Speaker: P. Takis Metaxas is a professor of computer science at Wellesley College and an affiliate at Harvard's Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS) and the Faculty Director of the Albright Institute for Global Affairs. Takis studies how the web is changing the way people think, decide, and act as individuals and members of social communities. Much of Takis’ research is in web science, an emerging interdisciplinary field that connects computer science to the social sciences and natural sciences. Media coverage about his work has appeared in The Washington Post, Science (podcast), The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and MIT Technology Review, and many other mass media outlets.