At the end of 2020, it seems hard to imagine a worse year for social media misinformation, given the magnitude of the presidential election and the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 has proven to be up to the task, starting with the January 6 uprising and continuing with countless falsehoods and misrepresentations about COVID-19 vaccines.
To understand what 2022 could hold, we asked three researchers about the growth of disinformation on social media.
Without regulation, misinformation will get worse
Anjana Susarla, Professor of Information Systems, Michigan State University
Although misinformation is always present in the media – think about Great Moon Hoax in 1835 that life has been claimed to be discovered on the moon – the advent of social media has dramatically increased the reach, spread and reach of misinformation. Social media platforms have turned into public information utility that controls the way most people see the world, which makes their misinformation a fundamental problem for society.
There are two main challenges in addressing misinformation. The first is the scarcity of regulatory mechanisms that deal with this problem. Demand transparency and give users more access and control over their data can go a long way in addressing the challenge of misinformation. But independent audits are also needed, including tools to evaluate social media algorithms. These could establish how social media platforms’ options in news feed management and content presentation influence how people view information.
The second challenge is that racial and gender bias in the algorithms used by social media platforms exacerbate the problem of misinformation. While social media companies have introduced mechanisms to highlight authoritative sources, solutions like labeling posts as misinformation do not address racial and gender bias in accessing information. Highlighting relevant sources such as health information can only help users better health knowledge and not those with a low level of health literacy, who tend to be disproportionately ethnic minorities.
Another issue is the need to systematically look at where users are looking for misinformation. TikTok for example, have largely escaped government surveillance. More, misinformation targeting minorities, especially content in Spanish, can be much worse than misinformation targeting majority communities.
I believe the lack of independent audits, the lack of transparency in fact-checking, and the underlying algorithms of racial and gender bias used by social media platforms indicate a need Regulatory action by 2022 is urgent and immediate.
Growing divisions and skepticism
Dam Hee Kim, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Arizona
“Fake news” is hardly a new phenomenon, yet its cost has risen to another level in recent years. Misinformation related to COVID-19 has claimed the lives of countless people around the world. Misinformation and Misinformation about Elections could shake the foundations of democracy, for example, by making citizens loss of faith in the political system. The research that I did with S Mo Jones-Jang and Kate Kenski on election disinformation, some are published and some are in the works, have made three main findings.
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The first is that the use of social media, originally designed to connect people, can facilitate social disconnection. Social media has become full of misinformation. This makes social media users skeptical not only of established institutions such as politicians and the media, but also of voters.
Second, politicians, the media and voters have become scapegoats for the harms of “fake news.” Very few of them actually generate misinformation. Most misinformation is generated by foreign entity and political fringe group people who create “fake news” for financial or ideological purposes. However, citizens who use disinformation on social media tend to blame politicians, the media and other voters.
The third finding is that people care about being properly informed not immune to misinformation. People who prefer to process, structure, and understand information in a coherent and meaningful way become more politically skeptical after being exposed to “fake news” perceived as “fake news” than those who are less politically skeptical. politically more sophisticated. These critical thinkers become frustrated when they have to deal with so much false and misleading information. This is worrisome because democracy depends on the participation of thoughtful and caring citizens.
Looking forward to 2022, it is important to address this skepticism. There has been much talk about literacy intervention media, mainly to help those who are less politically complex. In addition, it is important to find a way to explain the status of “fake news” on social networks, namely who creates “fake news”, why some organizations and groups produce it, and who America loves it. This can help prevent people from becoming more and more politically cynical.
Instead of blaming each other for the harm of “fake news” produced by foreign organizations and marginalized groups, people need to find a way to restore trust in each other. Eliminating the effects of misinformation will help achieve the larger goal of redressing divisions in society.
Propaganda by another name
Ethan Zuckerman, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Communication and Information, UMass Amherst
I expect the idea of disinformation to translate into the idea of propaganda by 2022, as suggested by sociologist and media scholar Francesca Tripodi in upcoming book, “Playbook of the propagandist.” Most misinformation is not the result of innocent misunderstanding. It is the product of specific campaigns that promote a political or ideological agenda.
Once you understand that Facebook and other platforms are battlegrounds for contemporary political campaigns, you can let go of the idea that all you need is the truth to correct people’s misunderstandings. . What’s happening is a more complex combination of persuasion, tribal affiliation and signal, broadcast in many places from social networks to search results.
As the 2022 election heats up, I expect platforms like Facebook to hit a breaking point on misinformation as certain lies have become the focus of political speech for the party. faction. How do social media platforms manage when false speech is also political speech?
This article was republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
Read more on social media and political disinformation:
https://www.salon.com/2021/12/28/a-new-year-in-misinformation-what-garbage-will-spread-on-social-media-in-2022_partner/ Tet about misinformation: What garbage will be rampant on social networks in 2022?