The SSRC is an independent, international, nonprofit organization. It fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.
It’s been 20 years since the attacks on the twin towers, the Pentagon and the crash of United 93 in a field in Shanksville, Pa., and in some ways the most important legacy of 9/11 can be boiled down to one maddening question: What is the truth?
In our pandemic moment, in the aftermath of a presidential administration that weaponized accusations of “fake news” against its political enemies while promoting egregious falsehoods, this is no small matter. A recent report in The Washington Post underscores how concentrated and deadly the dissemination of false information has become: A vast amount of anti-vaccination content is generated by just 111 (out of billions of) Facebook accounts.
Our toxic media ecosystem — what Jacob Silverman earlier this year called the “right-wing conspiracy singularity”— has its roots in the immediate chaotic times after 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that followed. Then, technological changes combined with political ones to create a media landscape full of potential for democratic impulses and marbled with toxic misinformation.