The Lahore University of Management Sciences ( LUMS) has won the highly competitive Facebook Integrity Foundational Research Award worth $50,000 for their proposal, “Understanding the Impact of Digital Literacy on Misinformation in Pakistan” through two profound instructors Dr. Ayesha Ali, Assistant Professor of Economics at Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences (MGSHSS), LUMS and Dr. Ihsan Ayyub Qazi, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE)”.

Facebook Research Awards are structured as unrestricted monetary awards that provide funding for innovative and compelling research proposals that have the potential to significantly advance knowledge in areas of mutual interest.

As part of their research, they will study the growing phenomenon of misinformation (or fake news) on social media platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, in Pakistan. In particular, their work will focus on the relationship between digital literacy and the spread of misinformation on social media platforms and evaluate potential solutions for countering misinformation through a randomised control trial. Misinformation is a challenging problem in developing countries where lower levels of literacy and limited exposure of users to technology can exacerbate the negative consequences of misinformation such as polarisation and conflict.

Commenting on the reasons for pursuing research on misinformation, Dr. Ayesha and Dr. Ihsan said, “The negative consequences of misinformation can be both substantial and highly varied ranging from interference in elections, amplifying ideological biases, and putting people in harm’s way (e.g., recent killing of people in India due to fake news on WhatsApp). We believe our research can play a positive role in advancing the understanding of factors associated with the spread of misinformation and some possible ways of countering it”.

Dr. Ayesha and Dr. Ihsan have also been invited by Facebook to attend a workshop in Menlo Park, California in 2019 to share the findings of their research.

Commenting on the research focus at LUMS and its impact on their work, Dr. Ayesha said, “LUMS provides a vibrant environment for carrying out high quality research. It brings together outstanding faculty, talented students, and provides space for interdisciplinary research. The entire ecosystem supports our research and quest to address important challenges facing our rapidly changing world.”

Winning this prestigious Facebook Integrity Foundational Research Award is a big achievement. LUMS is proud of both Dr. Ali and Dr. Qazi and wishes them the best of luck for future endeavours.

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