The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced investments totaling more than $3.5 million in support of research on issues at the forefront of national tech policy debates.
Part of a recently announced $50 million commitment to study how technology is affecting democracy and the way people are informed in the digital age, the grants were awarded to twenty-two universities, think tanks, and advocacy organizations working to fill gaps in the research used by lawmakers and others to shape the future of the Internet. Awards include $250,000 to the Economic Security Project in support of research on the impact of economic concentration in the technology industry; $400,000 to the American Enterprise Institute in support of a digital governance project aimed at helping policy makers understand the key issues at the intersection of technology and public policy; and $100,000 to the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights to develop an empirical study of content moderation on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, its role in their business models, and practical recommendations for improvement.
"These issues are moving faster than we can evaluate and analyze them. We need to close the knowledge gap if our society is going to make smart decisions about how to ensure technology strengthens democracy rather than weakening it," said Sam Gill, a vice president at the Knight Foundation. "Knight is investing in and supporting this research to ensure that a diverse range of views and a body of real evidence informs urgent policy debates. How we answer the questions of today will shape the American democracy of tomorrow."