CHAPEL HILL — Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, rumors, fake news.

“We’re in a time where anyone can create information and put it out on the internet,” said Alice Marwick, UNC Chapel Hill’s assistant professor of communication.

The implications are vast.

But thanks a $5 million injection from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a new research center at UNC Chapel Hill is looking to answer “defining questions” about the changing nature of society and politics in this digital age.

Marwick is one of four faculty members leading the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), taking a deep dive into these technologies and tactics.

The new funding is part of a broader Knight Foundation initiative that is investing nearly $50 million for research around technology’s impact on democracy in the digital age.

“To understand what is actually happening, we need independent research and insights based on data, not emotion and invective,” Knight Foundation’s President Alberto Ibargüen said in a release.

The UNC center is expected to draw some of the world’s leading experts in information science, media and journalism. “These are complicated problems,” said Gary Marchionini, dean of the School of Information and Library Science and CITAP’s principal investigator, “so if we’re not looking at it through the lenses of sociology and psychology and technology, then we’re going to miss things.”

Other sponsors included Luminate, with an additional $750,000; and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, with $600,000.

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