Harvard’s Kennedy School Shuts Down Misinformation Program, Fires Leader

Although prominent figures in the media and academia have long lamented the perceived societal blight of online misinformation, many Americans believe the effort to root out such content is actually based on a desire to silence conservative voices.

There has been evidence released, particularly through the “Twitter Files” released in recent months, that leftist politicians and bureaucrats have pressured social media platforms to remove right-wing content even without proving that it was factually inaccurate.

Harvard University has devoted resources to combatting so-called misinformation within the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Safety — but critics of the program can celebrate the fact that it will soon be coming to an end.

According to an internal email that became public on Friday, the Technology and Social Change Project is winding down due to an inability to attract appropriate leadership. The program is expected to be fully phased out by mid-2024 and its current leader, Joan M. Donovan, is reportedly being fired.

James F. Smith, a spokesman for the Kennedy School, confirmed in a statement to the Harvard Crimson that the school’s dean, Douglas W. Elmendorf, decided to part ways with Donovan because she is not a fully credentialed professor.

“The Technology and Social Change project is winding down — through an extended transition — because it does not have intellectual and academic leadership by a full HKS faculty member, as required of all long-term research and outreach projects at HKS,” he explained.

As the project comes to an end, Donovan will remain in her current post, though she will be prohibited from hiring new researchers, raising additional money, or spending the school’s funds without strict oversight.

While the end of this program might be seen by some conservatives as a step in the right direction, it does not mean that Harvard or its Kennedy School are pivoting away from the larger goal of addressing perceived misinformation.

Two other ongoing programs — the Misinformation Review and the Public Interest Tech Lab’s Facebook archive project — are similarly focused on the controversial issue.

Largely under the guise of addressing misinformation, major social media sites have taken a heavy-handed approach to moderating, censoring, or banning conservative users, as journalist Mollie Hemingway explained in March.

“You can not possibly have been alive in the last five years and think that social media companies do anything other than amplify left-wing insanity and crush anything from the right that hurts the left,” she said.