Social media accountability project named finalist in international ‘AI and the News’ challenge

“Decoding Democracy: A Social Media Accountability Project,” which is being developed by Rebecca Kelly, assistant professor of communications design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ School of Design, has been named a finalist in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the News Open Challenge sponsored by Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative.

The challenge, which will award up to $750,000 to a range of projects, seeks fresh and experimental approaches to four specific problems at the intersection of AI and the news: “Governing the Platforms,” “Stopping Bad Actors,” “Empowering Journalism” and “Reimagining AI and News.” Winners will be announced in March.

“Decoding Democracy” will be used to combat the spread of false, malicious and divisive messages through AI on social media. While platforms currently take some steps to make paid advertising more transparent by revealing creators’ identities, locations and intentions, they are not adequately addressing the volume of unpaid messages—images and memes that deliver targeted messages to specific audiences. They are completely unregulated.

Kelly’s strengths and interests lie in teaching the importance of conceptual thinking, not only to promote the virtues of invention and creativity, but ultimately the power of smart communication. She lives for idea generation. Implementing creative methodologies for effectively developing these ideas in the fields of graphic design, advertising, art direction–and communication in general—is what she believes to be her most significant contribution to the classroom.

Story by Erica Blust