New MIDAS Lab at the Cronkite School to study misinformation

Portrait of ASU Associate Professor K. Hazel Kwon.

K. Hazel Kwon

In an effort to combat disinformation and misinformation, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University has launched the Media, Information, Data and Society (MIDAS) Lab, directed by Cronkite Associate Professor K. Hazel Kwon.

“The media and journalism industry has become so intertwined with the platform industry, information system sector and artificial intelligence development, it is necessary that media scholars expand their ‘sphere of inquiry’ toward AI, digital technology and data science to better understand the role of media in society and democracy,” Kwon said.

Kwon believes the MIDAS Lab will lay solid groundwork for the Cronkite School to be one of the leaders in this field of research.  

The MIDAS Lab is an extension of several research projects sponsored by the Army Research Office, the Social Science Research Council and the National Science Foundation. The focus will be on data-driven computational and social scientific research to better understand the various communication issues surrounding digital media and society.

Among the lab’s main objectives will be working on tackling problematic information such as disinformation, misinformation, dark web activities and incivility. 

The lab’s new project will look at disinformation and how it affects Asian Americans, after receiving two grants: one from ASU’s Global Security Initiative and another from the National Science Foundation’s two-year interdisciplinary research award. 

The MIDAS Lab serves as the co-principal investigator at the National Science Foundation as it explores how to detect anti-Asian disinformation on the web and understand its impact on social bias and hatred against Asian Americans. 

The lab will also explore gun political discourse online. It will work with Facebook’s FORT (Facebook Open Research and Transparency) program.

Kwon will present some of the lab’s findings at the Facebook FORT research meeting this month. In the future, the MIDAS Lab plans to offer research training to undergraduate students interested in using data to advance public knowledge, media research and social sciences.

Dawn Gilpin, assistant dean for research, says the lab is important because it offers a space where faculty and students can advance their understanding of the intersections of media, technology and democracy, which are increasingly entangled in complex ways.

“This lab is important to the discipline because the implications of this research are vital if we are to develop institutions and regulatory frameworks that can resist bad actors and amplify positive forces,” Gilpin said.

Written by By Alicia Barron

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