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CITP Luncheon Speaker Series: Helen Wong – Quantifying Harm in an Age of Misinformation

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

This talk will not be live-streamed or videotaped.

No RSVP required for current Princeton faculty, staff, and students. Open to members of the public by invitation only.Please contact Jean Butcher at  if you are interested in attending a particular lunch.

A fundamental bedrock of our legal system is that, when you are harmed, you have the opportunity to seek justice through the courts and due process. But part and parcel to this opportunity are the requirements that you articulate this harm and specify the appropriate remedy for justice. But what if the harm you’re experiencing is so nebulous that the traditional legal notion of harm is no longer sufficient? What if traditional legal avenues fail to account for new kinds of harm?

It is commonplace to say that we live in an age of misinformation. The lesson we learned in the 2016 election was how unprepared our media, government, and law enforcement institutions were for the vast swath of misinformation that flooded our social media channels. Yet, the conversation we are not having is how the average person is sustaining significant damages as a result of the falsehoods being spread through our various social media channels. Even worse, misinformation on social media is no longer our only, or even our prevailing, technological threat. Most important, the law has not adjusted to account for social media misinformation and other new technological threats.

During this hour, we will discuss examples of how various emerging technologies are being used to spread misinformation and the impact it has on society and the individual. We will then explore how the law currently views “harm” and whether our current legal structure is prepared for the new wave of misinformation and technological threats that may hit our society.

All views expressed in this discussion are made in Helen’s personal capacity and do not reflect the opinions or positions of her current or former employers.


Helen Wong is director of Fintech and Payments at Discover Financial Services. In this role, she provides strategic advice regarding payments and financial technology issues, including mobile payments and emerging payment and commerce platforms. Ms. Wong was previously an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission. Her work at the FTC focused on consumer protection enforcement actions involving financial technology issues, including mobile payments,crowd-funding, and cryptocurrencies. She has acted as the lead attorney on a number of cases, including the FTC’s first Bitcoin-related case and the first crowdfunding case. Ms. Wong has spoken at numerous conferences on these issues including the National Association of Attorney Generals’ Conference, the DC Blockchain Summit, George Washington Law School Fintech Forum, and TEDx Northwestern. Prior to joining the FTC, she was an associate at the law firm of White & Case. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and Georgetown University Law Center.

To request accommodations for a disability, please contact Jean Butcher, , 609-258-9658 at least one week prior to the event.