Senior Researcher - Anti-Disinformation (USA)

Anywhere (preference for candidates based in the USA) | Anti-Disinformation Positions | Full-time

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Senior Researcher (USA) - Anti-Disinformation Team

Period: (July - December 2020) with longer-term renewal possibility

Disinformation is a threat to the US elections in 2020 and to democracy itself.  Malicious actors are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, foreign and domestic influence operations are targeting US candidates, climate denialists cast a shadow over the science, and information warfare tactics are being deployed to sow chaos, deepen polarization, and suppress voter participation, particularly amongst vulnerable groups. The world is facing unprecedented crises, from a pandemic to climate catastrophe. If we let disinformation define the public debate and divide us just when we need to unite to tackle massive challenges, we could lose everything we love.

That’s why, after two years of impact-driven, global anti-disinformation work, Avaaz is launching a hard-hitting, non-partisan, and impact-focused campaign to protect US democracy from the proliferation of disinformation, misinformation, “fake news” and the harm of online disinformers. 

At the heart of this campaign is a robust research operation that monitors, tracks and responds to the emergence and spread of disinformation in the US online information ecosystem. If you’re a passionate, creative, focused, and results-driven professional who wants to be at the center of some of the world’s most impactful and solutions-focused anti-disinformation work -- now is your moment to apply!

The role

As a Senior Researcher in this very fast-paced project you will be driving the organization’s anti-disinformation work ahead of the US 2020 elections -- including investigations, strategy development, content production, and partnership building. You’ll be joining a team focused on uncovering the networks of deception seeking to cripple the US democratic process, and on increasing pressure on Facebook, Google, Twitter and other platforms to adopt smart policies.

Responsibilities

  • Directly and actively managing the work of a team of approximately 5-10 junior researchers;
  • Helping develop campaigns, reports, targeted research products;
  • Developing media materials and other outputs to land the impact of our research;
  • Seamlessly manage up to ensure strong input and alignment on priorities. 

Senior Researchers will also participate in every aspect of the investigations team, including:

  • Monitoring and investigating disinformation narratives and networks (foreign and domestic) of fake and duplicate accounts, bots, trolls and fake news operations on social media regarding the presidential and congressional elections. Including: 
    • Studying and analyzing local news ecosystems in key swing states to see how disinformation is spread. 
    • Investigating content targeting vulnerable voters, including communities of color  - particularly around issues such as voter suppression and societal polarisation. 
    • Proactively identifying opportunities for external, mission-effective campaign opportunities based on relevant monitoring and research. 
  • Compiling findings into reports to be shared with the major tech platforms, members of Congress, regulators, and the media for action (to take a look at previous reports and read more about this project, check out our anti-disinformation hub).
  • Consulting with external experts and supporting the development of strong strategies, policy, and messages to combat disinformation.
  • Helping to shape the overall strategic direction of the US anti-disinformation program, and at times supporting other tasks of the organisation including recruitment, team building and management, and special projects.

General skills

The ideal candidate will have a good cross-section of the following:

  • Senior investigation and research skills. Including excellent project design, high quality judgement and decision making, pinpointing the right places to focus, strong evidence collection skills, and analysis of data and information. 
  • Strong team management skills with a demonstrated ability to deliver strong results on short timelines for equivalent research projects. 
  • Tech-savvy with a high-level understanding of social media platforms, especially Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter - and a strong sense of how those platforms are being misused.
  • Excellent understanding of American elections, culture and politics.  
  • Excellent teamwork skills, comfortable leading in a highly collaborative team culture and a hierarchical team structure, with regular pivots and changes.
  • Strong self care skills and resilience practices when engaging with challenging and triggering content. And able to support others through those challenges. 
  • Excellent strategic, creative, and innovative thinking.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills.
  • High professionalism, self-motivation, efficiency and results-oriented delivery on short timelines. 
  • It would be an asset if you had experience with social media monitoring tools and other online investigation tools, and knowledge of typical disinformation playbooks, past and current attempts to disrupt election processes through disinformation and deception.

Location: Avaaz is a virtual organisation, with most of our work done over email, telephone and Skype. For this position we would prefer candidates based in the USA, but welcome other applicants from around the world to apply if meeting the skills described.

Compensation and Benefits: Salary varies with location and experience, but is highly competitive with leading non-governmental organisations. The position comes with a generous benefits package including health care and dental.

English fluency is a requirement, Spanish is an asset.