Our Mission & Values
Although falsehoods have always existed, today, bad actors have a powerful range of tools and tactics that give them unprecedented impact. We strive to alert in real-time, translate our findings into concrete policy recommendations, and create resources that help the public face information disorder.
Autonomy and Free Will
Information forms the basis of everything from our life choices, opinions, and which leaders we choose to support. By manipulating information, bad actors have found they can influence how the public responds, even convincing people to support ideas and policies that hurt them personally. This covertly robs people of free will without their awareness. We believe that one day this will be recognized as a grave abuse of human rights and that people have an unalienable right to accurate information, free from manipulative mediums, messaging, and messengers.
Serving the public is our number one concern. We do not prioritize anything above the belief that the public can handle and is entitled to accurate information. Rather than approaching the issue with fact checks, which rely on outside action, we help the public understand media manipulation, tactics, strategies, and tropes and strive for publicly accessible tools.
We are nonpartisan in that we do not favor political groups, but neither do we attempt to give equal time to arguments of unequal merit—to do so would be misleading. Our concern is that our work reflects a comprehensive and contextualized view of the facts, free from media manipulation tactics. If the same group engages in deceptive tactics, we do not attempt to find an opposition group to criticize. To do so is fundamentally unjust.
In a crisis, we experience predictable mental changes . These information-processing changes leave us vulnerable to cognitive distortion and disinformation. Our biases and pre-existing beliefs only compound the problem. Although we know the most common information processing changes and general narratives remain relatively common across time and space, we have failed to integrate this subject into public health scholarship.
The threat posed by this oversight is not static. Today a range of threat actors can reach us with a message tailored to our life experiences in a way impossible decades ago [2–5]. The power to convince the public to reject the precise means by which they could protect themselves or hold powerful interests accountable is within reach for more bad actors than ever before [6–8], but so too are the means by which we can face this challenge.
The cost of these influence efforts remains largely unappreciated, but even a single example would be sufficient to demonstrate the scale of financial loss. Based on The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security assessment on the cost of mis- and disinformation , the non-vaccination-associated costs from May 1, 2021, to March 1, 2022–322 days–totaled between $16.1 billion to $96.6 billion. Reducing mis- and disinformation-related vaccine avoidance by a mere 10% might have saved the US between $1.1 billion to $9.6 billion in that period, using the figures estimated by the Center for Health Security.
Our vulnerabilities present an opportunity for maximum impact. While there is little we can do to eliminate the bad actors, we can prepare the public for the predation they now face. The evidence shows predictable mental changes in crisis, known and exploitable cognitive mechanisms, repeated false claims and themes across decades, and disaster types. We cannot afford to neglect this aspect of public health any longer.
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Our work has been cited by national media, journalists, international fact-checking websites, advocacy groups, and expert resources. We accept no funding, have no grants, make no profit, and are exclusively volunteer-operated.