The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy (Harvard Kennedy School), with co-sponsor NULab (Northeastern University), recently featured Kate Starbird as part of their speaker series on fake news and misinformation. The video of that talk is now available online:
Recent public attention and debate around “fake news” has highlighted the growing challenge of determining information veracity online. This is a complex and dynamic problem at the intersection of technology, human cognition, and human behavior—i.e. our strategies and heuristics for making sense of information may make us vulnerable, within online spaces, to absorbing and passing along misinformation. Increasingly, it appears that certain actors are intentionally exploiting these vulnerabilities, spreading intentional misinformation—or disinformation—for various purposes, including geopolitical goals. Drawing on research conducted on online rumors in the context of crisis response, this talk explores what alternative narratives (or “conspiracy theories”) of crisis events reveal about “fake news”, political propaganda, and disinformation online.