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Misinformation expert Joan Donovan on the broken safeguards protecting truth

It’s been a tough year for renowned disinformation expert Joan Donovan.

She’s watched the spread of disinformation in world conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, looked on as social media continues to amplify and spread hatred and misinformation, and worries as institutions like media and academics fall increasingly under the influence of tech companies.

And then there’s her personal story. Now teaching at Boston University, Donovan alleges she was fired from her staff position at Harvard after Facebook executives objected to a Zoom presentation for donors in which she discussed the Facebook papers, which outline how Meta knowingly used algorithms that spread and magnified disinformation. Harvard denied the allegations and maintains Donovan’s project wound down after the faculty leader left, since Donovan, not officially ‘faculty’ wasn’t eligible to lead the group.

Donovan, who also founded the non-profit Critical Internet Studies Institute, joins host Robin Young to talk about her latest work in misinformation and the chilling effect of her case.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.