The premise of this dissertation is that 2016 was the year that societies began to understand the dangers of online/mis disinformation and decided to fund and implement solutions even though they had not been fully researched or tested. Many of the fixes were, in fact, based on the financial interests or belief systems of the people doing them. We provide a taxonomy of the variety of initiatives aimed at solving the problem, with the objective of enhancing our understanding of the strengths and limitations of each. The “solutions” we compare and contrast in this research include fact-checking initiatives and projects by journalists to promote community engagement, media literacy programs, technical fixes such as using natural language processing/AI to block false and/or inflammatory content and finally government regulation. Drawing on dozens of interviews with funders, journalists and regulators as well as archival material and including an exhaustive bibliography, this dissertation looks at the universe of solutions in an organized, structured way and concludes with policy proposals to help promote democracy.
Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs comprises more than 70 full-time faculty and more than 200 adjunct faculty, scholars, and practitioners. All have distinguished themselves in research and leadership in the policy world, and have produced scholarship in a wide variety of subjects, including international relations, democratization, elections, demography, and social policy.