Frequently Asked Questions
State and non-state actors are undermining trust and sowing discord in civil society and modern democratic institutions by spreading, or encouraging the sharing of, false information across traditional and non-traditional media platforms. Government, industry, academia, and the public sector are struggling to understand the roles and responsibilities for countering malicious or otherwise harmful activities. The Commission was established to identify and prioritize the most critical sources and causes of information disorder and deliver a set of short-term actions and longer-term goals to help government, private industry, and civil society respond.
In the short-term, the Commission will aim to: clearly identify the problem space; identify respective roles and responsibilities; and deliver recommendations for government, private industry, and civil society to take up immediately. In the long term, these efforts should assist the public and private sectors in finding ways to transparently, effectively, and appropriately disrupt information disorder; boost digital literacy; enhance civic awareness; set clear and transparent guidelines for private tech platforms.
Drawing from the enormous amount of thoughtful work already being done in this space, the Commission spent the first several meetings learning from experts and each other, and engaging in conversation to understand the scope of the problem and identify the gaps that exist in the ability of government, the tech platforms, and civil society to address what First Draft Co-Founder Claire Wardle has termed “information disorder.”
The Commission has since been participating in a series of working groups and structured conversations to determine:
- The most effective policy solutions and stakeholders to address those most damaging near-term disinformation threats
- The lawful and ethical means by which the federal government can promote fact-based information to counter the most dangerous disinformation campaigns
- How government, private industry, and civil society can work together in the short term to help protect underrepresented groups, and engage disaffected populations who have lost faith in evidence-based reality
- The longer-term, more foundational challenges that will require deeper societal engagement to address
The Commission will also lay out a longer-term research, study, or action agenda for the field to undertake in the years ahead. Throughout the work, it is considering issues of equity and community representation when it comes both to the negative effects of disinformation as well as efforts to counter such problems.
Starting in mid-April, the Commission will meet 15-20 times over a period of six months. In July, approximately midway through that process, the effort's members, representing a diversity of perspectives, expertise, and experience, announced three priorities in their Interim Report: (1) reducing harms, (2) increasing transparency and understanding, and (3) building trust. The report surveys and frames the “information disorder” problem and prioritizes the most dangerous and urgent issues that must be addressed first. At the six-month mark, the group will announce and publish a set of immediately actionable solutions to the pressing issues it previously identified, as well as a set of recommendations for the longer term.
The Commission consists of three co-chairs and 15 commissioners, representing a wide array of perspectives drawn from government, research and academia, civil society, public service, and private industry. Commission members and co-chairs include:
- Marla Blow - Incoming President & Chief Operating Officer of Skoll Foundation
- Katie Couric (Co-Chair) - Journalist and Founder of Katie Couric Media
- Dr. Aaron Ford - Nevada Attorney General
- Yasmin Green - Director of Research and Development at Jigsaw, and Aspen Cybersecurity Group Member
- Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex - Co-Founder of Archewell
- Will Hurd - Former Congressman of Texas, and Aspen Cybersecurity Group Member
- Jameel Jaffer - Executive Director of Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
- Chris Krebs (Co-Chair) - Founding Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at US Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Senior Newmark Fellow in Cybersecurity Policy at Aspen Digital; and Co-Founder of Krebs Stamos Group
- Dr. Herb Lin - Senior Research Scholar & Research Fellow at Stanford University, and Aspen Cybersecurity Group Member
- Kathryn Murdoch - Co-Founder & President of Quadrivium
- Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble - Co-Founder & Co-Director of UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry
- Rashad Robinson (Co-Chair) - President of Color Of Change
- Prof. Deb Roy - Professor at MIT; Director of MIT Center for Constructive Communication; and Co-Founder & Chair of Cortico
- Alex Stamos - Founder of Stanford Internet Observatory, and Aspen Cybersecurity Group Member
- Dr. Kate Starbird - Associate Professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering at University of Washington
- Amanda Zamora - Co-Founder & Publisher of The 19th
The composition of the Commission is intended to represent a diversity of expertise, backgrounds, and lived experience. We also draw upon both formal and informal expert advisors as well as sponsor additional research as needed. Learn more about the commissioners here.
During the initial several weeks, the Commission received a series of briefings from a range of experts. These briefings covered the history, rise, and current threat of disinformation; the intersection of disinformation and marginalized communities; the challenge of civic education and literacy; the societal decline of trust in institutions; the First Amendment and the effects of Section 230; and the growing challenge of mis- and disinformation campaigns against private industry and companies; among other core topics. These briefings were recorded and are available to the public via the "Disinfo Discussions" video/podcast series, which can be found found here. To support the commissioners, Aspen staff also identified areas of focus that provide background on and context to information disorder, providing a list of selected experts and relevant readings so that the public may follow along. These resources are found in the Commission's Knowledge Center.
Commissioners will not be compensated for their participation and work.
The Aspen Commission on Information Disorder is fully funded from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the giving organization of the founder of craigslist and Aspen Digital’s biggest supporter.