Misinformation spreading on social media has become a fact of life: fueling polarization and hate, driving down trust in institutions, amplifying fringe science and conspiracies, and inciting violence. Every political and social issue is now impacted by the threat of false and misleading claims that can confuse and radicalize the public. This isn’t a solvable problem; there is no silver bullet. Social media platforms and fact-checkers can’t moderate us out of this downward spiral, and no act of Congress can effectively restrict the flood of misinformation that is likely to continue unabated. Instead, we must build capacity within our communities to establish resilience to the impact of misinformation. We must cultivate a shared sense of civic responsibility for understanding and identifying harmful and misleading messages so that the effort to continuously blunt the impact of misinformation is built into the foundation of grassroots civic engagement.

The Civic Listening Corps (CLC) is a training and engagement program designed to empower community-based organizations to tackle the challenges of misinformation directly by providing tools and strategies to activate their membership in the process of understanding, identifying, and analyzing problematic content circulating within open and closed social media. The CLC program aims to achieve two complementary goals: build resilience to misinformation within each community and aggregate insights across communities. The program establishes a training curriculum administered by expert misinformation researchers to lead participants through the entire misinformation ecosystem. Members of the corps learn how to recognize the different forms of misinformation, critically analyze the techniques used to amplify messages, and find and identify new sources of problematic content. This training program is paired with a regular cadence of assignments and virtual meetings so that participants have concrete deliverables and an opportunity to share learnings with other members of the corps.

The Civic Listening Corps Program will:

  • Develop partnerships with a broad range of civil society organizations to fund and train their staff in a train-the-trainer model to administer clusters of CLC volunteers
  • Administer a core training curriculum to on-board members of the corps in cohorts lasting 3 months, where participants will learn basic technical, verification, and reporting skills
  • Provide technical infrastructure for the ongoing process of monitoring, collecting, annotating, and sharing problematic content reports, narratives, and sources.
  • Mobilize a national campaign to elevate the act of combating misinformation as a critical form of civic engagement.