Much of the conversation about misinformation online — an ever-evolving, difficult to define problem itself — centers on identifying it, reducing it, and removing it. Platforms use machine learning systems to identify and take action on content that violates platform policies, either by removing it or, for content that skirts the line of what’s permitted, reducing it in recommendations. Algorithms are powerful tools that constantly improve over time. But there are other approaches that can help address the broader objective of making people more resilient to misinformation they might encounter on the internet.

Like others, Google has been studying this…


Jonathan Swift wrote that “falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” It’s true that misinformation can spread fast and far, but science’s attempts to understand the nuanced human behavior behind spreading fiction online still leaves open questions. Is it because we instinctively gravitate toward highly novel and emotional content? Is it because we lack the information literacy to discern authoritative sources? Or are we only believing what we want to believe, disregarding countervailing evidence?

New research published in Nature, from a team led by Gordon Pennycook, offers a partial explanation: when we’re online, we sometimes become distracted and simply…


When Jigsaw researchers met Jennifer in a Montana cafe, she explained how she came to believe that the Earth was flat. For the past few years Jennifer had become immersed in conspiracy theories that eventually became a significant part of her identity and life. She renounced her relationship with her parents, who were regular NPR listeners. She relocated to another state to be closer to other people who believed the same conspiracy theories. She even met her boyfriend on a dating site marketed to “truthers.”

Jennifer’s devotion to conspiracy theories was mirrored in other conspiracy adherents we met, which highlights…


From claims that the Earth is flat to the viral rumors that SARS-CoV-2 was designed as a biological weapon, a new wave of conspiracy theories are gaining traction and prominence. Conspiracy theories themselves are nothing new, but these latest theories represent the newest iterations of a pattern of thinking that, as has been demonstrated by examples in history and current events, has the potential to motivate people to violence.

We partnered with a team of anthropologists from ReD Associates to study the common features and beliefs of people who subscribe to conspiracy theories, with a goal of identifying when certain…


While the internet provides vital spaces for women seeking expression and opportunity, nearly all of the forms of online violence — harassment, doxing, toxicity, bullying, revenge porn, misinformation and defamation — disproportionately affect women. As part of Jigsaw’s work exploring threats to open societies, we partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to study the prevalence and impact of online violence against women on a global scale.

We surveyed women from the 51 most online-populated countries to better understand their experiences online, and to measure the tactics and trends of online violence as well as its impact on women. Nearly…


To understand violent white supremacy, we need to learn from former white supremacists, abandon myths about lone actor violence, and investigate the informal networks through which this movement spreads

This article has been republished from The Current, Jigsaw’s research magazine outlining today’s digital threats and solutions, available here.

Violent white supremacism is flourishing through robust communication networks with weak social ties

Over the course of two years, Jigsaw interviewed dozens of former white supremacists, a number of whom have never shared their stories publicly. We believe that conducting research with former extremists offers valuable perspectives on violent movements, including how…


Our team at Jigsaw uses artificial intelligence to spot toxicity online, and part of our work focuses on how to make that information more useful to the platforms and publishers that need it to host better conversations. Sometimes that means helping platforms moderate conversations more effectively, but we’ve also been exploring how we can help the users — the people actually writing the comment or post — better understand the impact of their words.

We all understand how toxicity online makes the internet a less pleasant place. But the truth is, many toxic comments are not the work of professional…


By: Jared Cohen

Jigsaw’s work requires forecasting the most urgent threats facing the internet, and wherever we traveled these past years — from Macedonia to Eastern Ukraine to the Philippines to Kenya and the United States — we observed an evolution in how disinformation was being used to manipulate elections, wage war, and disrupt civil society. By disinformation we mean more than fake news. Disinformation today entails sophisticated, targeted influence campaigns, often launched by governments, with the goal of influencing societal, economic, and military events around the world. …


By: Daniel Borkan, Jeff Sorensen, Lucy Vasserman

In April of 2018, we launched a Kaggle competition where we challenged the competitors to build a model that recognizes toxicity and minimizes unintended bias with respect to mentions of identities. For the competition, we released the largest known public dataset of comments with toxicity labels and identity labels for measuring unintended bias. We share datasets as a way to encourage and enable research that benefits the entire industry, and this data has already sparked some exciting research. To continue that momentum, today we are expanding this dataset by releasing the individual annotations…


Online gaming sites are one of the fastest-growing sectors of social media — the industry generates upwards of 300 billion by some estimates — but with that explosive growth comes issues with toxicity and online harassment. That’s the exact problem FACEIT, the leading independent competitive gaming platform for online multiplayer PvP gamers, wanted to solve.

In addition to creating a positive and immersive gaming experience for their more than 15 million users, FACEIT also wanted to incorporate innovative technology to enhance the work of the human moderators, while encouraging new ways for the community to engage with each other that…

Jigsaw

A unit at Google that uses technology to make the world safer.

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