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Cyborgs, trolls and bots: A guide to online misinformation

AP: “…Political misinformation has been around since before the printing press, but the internet has allowed falsehoods, conspiracy theories and exaggerations to spread faster and farther than ever. Misinformation is defined as any false information, regardless of intent, including honest mistakes or misunderstandings of the facts. Disinformation, on the other hand, typically refers to misinformation created and spread intentionally as a way to confuse or mislead. Misinformation and disinformation can appear in political ads or social media posts. They can include fake news stories or doctored videos. One egregious example of disinformation from last year was a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down to make her sound as if she were slurring her words. Research indicates that false claims spread more easily than accurate ones, possibly because they are crafted to grab attention…[h/t Pete Weiss]

Researchers who study Americans’ changing media habits recommend that people turn to a variety of sources and perspectives for their news, use critical thinking when evaluating information on social media, and think twice about reposting viral claims. Otherwise, they say, misinformation will continue to flow, and users will continue to spread it. “The only solution,” Ferrara said, “is education.”

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