The Knight Foundation Puts Millions Into Researching Internet Governance

Funds will go to colleges and think tanks researching these issues

The Knight Foundation logo and illustration of a hand picking up a message block with shapes in and surrounding it
The national foundation is taking an interest in how social media works. The Knight Foundation
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The Knight Foundation is investing more than $3.5 million in various research projects that will dig into how the internet, and in particular social media, is governed.

The nonprofit John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will spread the funds among several research projects including: exploring the economic impacts of regulating digital platforms at Yale University and the Economic Security Project; legal research on the challenges associated with the platforms at the University of Iowa’s College of Law; and how speech is regulated on social media at Rutgers Law School’s Institute for Information Policy & Law.

“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, vice president at the Knight Foundation, in a statement.

The foundation’s recent investment is part of a larger $50 million commitment to support programs that explore how technology is affecting democracy.

Knight’s promise comes amid additional scrutiny of social media platforms, especially as they navigate how to best handle political ads heading into the 2020 presidential election. Last month, Twitter announced it would no longer accept political advertising.

“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,” Gill said. “How we answer the questions of today will shape the American democracy of tomorrow.”

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.