A Call for Ideas to Curb the Spread of Misinformation

March 26, 2018

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

Contact: Kate Belyi
The Rita Allen Foundation
kb@ritaallen.org | 609.683.8010

Washington, DC, March 26, 2018 – 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, technologists, data scientists, journalists, educators, community leaders and funders to explore up to five promising ideas for curbing the spread of misinformation. We are now seeking submissions for the featured ideas. 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, technologist, or community leader) in the position to put findings into action.

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.

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, the National Institutes of Health, Poynter Institute, First Draft 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:

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.

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