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Lisa Kaplan (CEHS ‘09): Countering Disinformation & Protecting Democratic Institutions
Lisa Kaplan (CEHS ‘09): Countering Disinformation & Protecting Democratic Institutions
Ginger Raspiller
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Alex Anesko invited Lisa Kaplan to visit his AP Java class to discuss her company’s (Alethea Group) work fighting the tsunami of disinformation that threatens everything from individuals and companies to countries and democracy itself.  

Alethea Group is focused exclusively on disinformation and the company is one-of-a-kind right now.  Based on the need and the proliferation of misinformation, Lisa expects other companies to jump into the market.

Lisa began by defining “disinformation” as the deliberate, and coordinated spread of falsehoods in order to achieve a goal.

In terms of disinformation, Lisa said “2016 was a turning point”.  Lisa explained how disinformation occurs: who the players are and how social media and their algorithms have allowed disinformation to proliferate in ways we never could have imaged even 10 years ago.  The conversation was rich with the language of her world:  bots, propaganda, beacons, hacking, surface, scraping, data-mining, natural language processing, digital forensics, AI, mitigation, etc.  Lisa made it clear that for software engineers and computer scientists - the opportunities are infinite!  Another quote: “I can’t hire software engineers fast enough!”

In addition to her company, Lisa also talked to students about her path from Cape to Colby to Washington DC  to the founding of her company.  Lisa’s mantras are “keep asking questions” and “do things you are interested in.” She also gave students interested in computer science ideas about what courses to take (try different things to see what interests you) and she stressed taking advantage of things like internships (great chance to check out a field and make connections)

Lisa is very interested in education as a tool to fight disinformation.  She has taught at the college level and has plans to expand her efforts to reach high school students across the country including Cape Elizabeth High School!