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Integrated Security Destination Area Creates New Initiative to Address Social Media and Influence

Dec 13, 2018

As the methods of sharing ideas in society evolve, the manner in which information is shared has impacts on the ability to verify information, control its dissemination, and determine its influence. The Virginia Tech Integrated Security Destination Area (ISDA), a transdisciplinary team designed to tackle pressing security problems through research, education, and engagement, seeks to examine this changing relationship between media and influence through the creation of the Information, Trust, and Society Initiative (ITSI).

Launched in Fall 2018, the Information, Trust, and Society Initiative brings together 40 faculty from liberal arts, business, public policy, computer science, engineering, and statistics.  The faculty have a collective interest in studying the changing relationship between society and information, and are affiliated with seven existing university centers and institutes that focus on topics such as social computing, human-computer interaction, tech policy, national security, and online radicalization. 

ITSI held a workshop in Blacksburg in October which featured lightning talks from Virginia Tech faculty, two keynote speakers, and offered those gathered a chance to discuss opportunities, next steps within the university, and the focus of the initiative going forward. ITSI will focus on the intersection of social media and influence, but also on broader research topics that include social media analytics, artificial intelligence, and the impact of technology on democracy. Since October, faculty from ITSI have worked with University Advancement to submit grant proposals worth over $18 million to the U.S. Department of State, the Knight Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. These grants will help the initiative to hire a director and continue in its research mission.

A second ITSI workshop will be held in the National Capital Region in late spring 2019. More information about this event will be available on the ITSI website.  For more information about the Information, Trust, and Society Initiative or would like to join the upcoming initiative efforts, please email Russ Walker at

About the Integrated Security Destination Area:  The ISDA seeks to understand and foster a world in which individuals, institutions and nations are secured by technology and social systems that follow ethical principles and promote values of social justice. Realizing the need for an integrated approach to security, the ISDA leverages cross-university strengths and commitments to focus on four inter-related themes that include cyber security, privacy and ethics, governance, and global security in modern society.  Increasing the security and resilience of our communities, the nation, and the world requires understanding security as an integrated system of values, capabilities, and preparedness. The Integrated Security Destination Area focuses on advancing and assuring the security of our vital social, political, and financial networks while balancing the crucial needs and expectations of privacy and governmental oversight.