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Misinformation Online: One of the Main Threats to Humanity


Troy

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"Digital misinformation has become so pervasive in online social media that it has been listed by the WEF (World Economic Forum) as one of the main threats to human society."

You can read the research report here.  Don't be put off by the formulas and graphs; you can get the gist by simply reading the opening paragraph and the conclusions.

@Cynique, I just stumbled across this article looking for something else and it make me think out you regarding our conversation about using Facebook to assess public opinion.  I cautioned you against doing this because of the echo chamber effect of the platform. This research speaks to this effect. 

It also talks about how difficult it is to change ones opinion as a result; whether it the belief in vaccines causing autism or denying the climate change.  It is pretty interesting stuff.

 

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While misinformation is more pervasive today, I think it is natural progression of lies and propaganda. If social wasn't here it may have took a bit longer but this is not a new thing. It is being done quicker now and that is all. 

Think about it in terms of the old experiment of standing people in a line and telling the first person one thing and then asking the last person what was said. Dis and Misinformation will always be around. Social has its good qualities. While many people form their opinions based on the info on social, a lot of people get good information. 

You can definitely get a feel for public opinion on social, you can also be misinformed. The fact is this study does nothing but verify that likeminded people share and report the same things. If you get rid of Facebook tomorrow those people would be on the porch sharing misinformation, or they would be at the pub/bar/club agreeing with each other about whatever it is being discussed.

Any person looking to condemn social as a threat could have written this. Any person looking to establish the opposing argument could have written a similar 6 page report. if Social media is a threat to society, then Hitler must have had one of the best computer networks in history right?

Likeminded people congregate. Maybe Facebook allows this to happen at a much faster rate, but I've seen kids at a school, without a social network or computer get the message out to jump another student during a 50 minute class. I guess now it would only take one minute, but the result is basically the same. 

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@Troy I did not contend that FaceBook could be "used to assess public opinion".  I said it reflected black culture.  I  did concede that black folks may be "fronting" on FaceBook, but I added that I did not think they were faking their opinions when it came to the upcoming election.   

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@Cynique, lets just say that the article reminded me of our conversation, and forget any of the ideas I attributed to you.

However, I'll address what you just wrote.  I do not think Facebook reflects Black culture in the least.  At best it is a caricature of it.  I agree everyone "fronts" on Facebook--more so that they would in real life.  

In terms of faking opinions regarding the election, what do you think about the impact of trolls, which the research paper discussed?  People consume information created by trolls in the same fashion that they consume real news.  People use troll generated information to substantiate a beliefs--even if they are exposed to real information.

In my mind, the question is not really about the opinions of folks, but how those opinions are arrived at and how Facebook serves to reinforces their opinion whether they are based in truth or not; or whether they are fronting or not.  

These articles explain this research more clearly, in layman's terms.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/q-a-walter-quattrociocchi-digital-wildfires/

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118093

@CD Burns, sure social Facebook helps spread false information more quickly, a propaganda is nothing new. But if I understand you correctly, it sounds like you are suggesting that someone, using the same data, could have easily written a paper with opposing information?

It also sounds like you are dismissing the impact of social media, essentially saying that any impact is only marginally different than what we've experienced in the past.  Am I reading you correctly?

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Well, I noticed that the headline of your post reads: Misinformation On Line: One of the Main Treats to Humanity.  I assume you meant "Threats", not "Treats"  - unless this is a Freudian slip clueing us to your subconscious belief that online misinformation is a treat because "ignorance is bliss".  It's also ironic that the absence of one letter in a word can distort the context in which it appears, so it's important to correct typos and proof read to maintain  credibility in regard to being detailed-oriented. ;)  

I can only speak for myself, Troy, so to me there was nothing shockingly revealing about these articles to a person like me, a natural born skeptic who's been around a long time, and who questions everything. 

On line, if anything sounds too fishy, I go to Snopes.com and get the lowdown.  I've always dismissed conspiracy theories and I take infomercials promising miracle cures with a grain of salt.  On social media I consider the source of articles and videos and check to see if they are from "Onion" or a liberal or conservative publication I recognize.  I even click on the icons of suspected trolls and go to their homepage, where you can often spot red flags about their impartiality.  This is one of the reasons I've never taken seriously what the Hillary Haters post about her  because they are contrived half-truths.  

As a long time reader of the Tabloids like The Enquirer, I know how headlines are sensationalized, and this also applies to The Net where articles and videos never live up to their hype, and memes are just scatter shots.  So my cynicism keeps me on guard. 

Furthermore, "online misconception" is not a subject I'm passionate about because, as was noted, rumors and urban myths and gossip have always been around; the net, as also noted, just spreads them faster.  I still have a little faith in people having common sense and that they are not totally bamboozled.  I think they choose to gravitate toward what piques their curiosity rather than what challenges their logic because they seek an escape from the real world. 

As for FaceBook, it may not be a portrait of black culture, but it is a snapshot of it. 

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Of course you are right about the typos--thanks for pointing it out, again. Hrad as I mghti tyr ti si dfiflcut ot eidt my onw wirhtging, btu yod'u be rsupsrided how mcuh cna be cmomnucitade dseipet typos.  But it is one of my weaknesses and while I'm not really sweating typos on the forum, it is an issue in general.

Cynique, it is still not clear to me why you keep asserting that people are not being bamboozled when there is so much evidence to the contrary. We all agree that social media helps bad information circulate more quickly, but when consider the fact that today we have easier access to better information than ever before, but we are much less informed.  

Better access to more information and we we worse off... 

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How do we know the "evidence" isn't based on what people do, instead of what they think?  Folks indulge their guilty pleasures and just because something is wrong or stupid doesn't mean they won't do it, especially when they want to believe something. That's why I feel that, deep down inside, most of Trump's follwers know he's full of BS, but they don't care because they don't like how things are

Comments like: "aw, they just tryna fool somebody", and "that's just a set up"  and "you cain't trust the media", and "that's some crazy shit" and "they just tryna sell you somethin,"  and "it's all fixed" and "don't believe the hype" are every day phrases in the conversation of everyday people, along with routine references to a ubiquitous entity known as "The Man" or  "They", or "Big Brother" -  sinister forces in cahoots with the political parties who are the 2 heads of the same dragon and who are all out to control and exploit you.   Of course, there's a sucker born every minute, but there are just as many suspicious people out there who aren't naive. They just don't make a lot of waves because they go with the flow.  They are, in a word, "apathetic".   IMO

 And considering that misconceptions have always been around, what is the trickle down effect of them?  The more things change, the more they become the same. I've just become philosophical about a lot society's pitfalls,  To me, Life, itself, is a big con game.  You just have to watch your back and keep on truckin'... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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I hear you Cynqiue.  

As a Black person in America, I'd be the first person to admit, that it is really hard not to believe a lot of the craziness flying around the internet.  So when people are convinced that vaccines cause Autism I get it-- we all know about the Tuskegee "experiments."

As we watch wealth inequality grow and witness first hand Black people be shot for no good reason, who would not believe in the Illuminati or some other cabal of white folks trying to control the world and rid it of Black people? 

Our course I could go on an on from climate change denial, to your typical internet hoax, to George Bush blowing up the World Trade Center, all the Jews staying home, no airplane debris at the pentagon, and thousands of Muslims cheering while the towers fell...  Why wouldn't people believe this? 

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You are reading me correct. I'm not saying the use of their data could be used to argue the opposing idea. I'm saying that research is the same and can be built in the same way for any argument. I'm also saying that Facebook is simply a medium to convey some message to other people. If the study was to state that Social Media allows for the speed of misinformation to be done quicker and therefore it is a dangerous then I get that. I'm also saying that Social Media allows for the speed of information to spread in a way that benefits people as well. 

It seems to me that you are intent on validating the negative aspects of social media. That's fine and it can be validated. 
 

I tend to think about the positive aspects and I look at those. I get to see the growth of my old basketball players into adults. I have connected with my father's family, which is amazing since he didn't raise me. Social media has made the world smaller and for me and the people that I see on my Facebook or Twitter they are doing incredible things and positive things.

This does not mean that I don't see the negative. I just don't spend as much time speaking on the negative aspects unless it is in regard to business.

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What I like to do when I'm reading ANYTHING on-line or anywhere else is ask myself,
"Who benefits?"

Who benefits from this information being put out?
What type of desired effect does whoever putting this information out want to achieve?


We should also talk about the difference between MISinformation and DISinformation.

Misinformation is just incorrect information.
But disinformation is specifically designed to mislead people by putting out lies specifically designed to influence people or an outcome but wrapped up mostly in facts.
Kind of like a Trojan Horse.

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Troy

I don't think they're trying to mislead people, I think they're TRYING to inform people.

But the question I have is, exactly WHO is their audience that they're trying to reach?

Given that I'm not the smartest person in the world and my ability to comprehend that article is limited....from MY perspective too much of the article is redundant and seems use graphs and statistics and multiple paragraphs to explain the same basic points over and over again.
Certainly this article wasn't written for the average person to understand because it's far too complex and scientifically detailed.
Which explains why it was found in a scientific publication.

However the question then becomes......
Does an audience smart enough to understand this article and has a mind analytical enough to follow it all the way through really NEED to be told over and over again in great detail...as this article does....that they should be careful and not believe everything they read or hear on social media?????


Another problem I have with the article is it's suggeting that all conspiracy theories are "misinformation".

It lumps conspiracy NEWS, conspiracy RUMORS, and conspiracy THEORIES all in the same category as if all three terms mean the same thing.

So in a sense it does seem as if they are attempting to persuade people not so much with "facts" but how they're wording certain things.

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Pioneer the article was written for other academics, but anyone with a college education should be able to follow it.  But given the state of education in the U.S. I can understand that it would be over the heads of most Americans.  Of course the study was picked up by the media and summarized, but I usually don't focus on these pieces as sometimes the conclusions they draw, or inferences they make, don't follow from what was actually published in the study.

For example, I don't see why you say they "lumped" news conspiracy theories and rumors.  Maybe that was mentioned in one of the articles, but that was not done in the study.

 

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Troy in support of your position the media picked up an image of Gabby crying while checking her phone during an interview with the other members of Team USA. She was finished with her portion and was off to the side. She was reading the comments to her on Social Media and she broke down on television (where she was supposed to be out of view). The ability for people to be so direct in their hate is easier than ever. When you focus on that aspect Social Media is definitely a problem. The thing is, while it was heartbreaking to see and hear about, Gabby could be like Troy and simply log off. The addiction to social media is real and when people don't have someone in their life to explain to them how to deal with it, it's extremely destructive.

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@CDBurns Obviousoy I don't agree with the idea of people ignoring the things others say about them online, believing this to be is an effective response in that doing so neutralizes what a detractor says.   But does it?  Or do offenders derive satisfaction from thinking  they have intimidated their target into silence?  An object of ridicule or abuse  is entitled to at least one retort, preferably one that will squelch the offender.   Gaby should stand up and defend herself.and, in her case, this wouldn't be hard to do. People can also be manipulated into being silent.  IMO

Poor Gaby kinda exemplifies the "be careful what you wish for or you might get it" caveat. Celebrities have to deal with all the slings and arrows that come with being in the arena of fame or - with having someone else steal your thunder...  But she's young and  hopefully resilient.  

 

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I guess it is a double edged sword. Responding to a troll gives them satisfaction. Not responding gives them satisfaction. It doesn't matter what you do with a troll, they are going to feel great about their ability to either make you disappear, or make you respond. You can't win with them so the best option I think is to block them and move on to the positive comments. Answer every question with all of your interest and power and soon the negative sounds are so filtered they don't even matter. That's how I would approach it. She can't win though. Black women hate her for being great and having nappy hair and white people hate her for being great and having nappy hair. I definitely hope she is resilient and moves forward with her life in a positive manner.

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I drove from Hilton Head, NC to Tampa Fl yesterday and I learned about Gabby being ridiculed on the radio by what was described as "members of Black Twitter."

I know Gabby is relatively young, but she is far from a child and has to know these comments have nothing to do with her.  These people are childish and mean.  They don't know Gabby.  If Gabby actually burst into tears as a result of reading something on Twitter then she needs needs to stay off the platform.  

Gabby, noone, deserves to be treated the way she has been.  The notion that this treatment is an understandable consequence of being a successful athlete is sick.

Now it would be impossible for her ignore the negativity hurled her way, this is how Twitter makes money providing a platform for trolls.  The rest of the media spreads the nonsense because it makes money for them too.  

The fact that we continue to support a business whose model is to serve as a platform to regularly demean Black women betrays collective weakness as a people.

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No matter what the circumstances are, Twitter and trolls exist, and they are a part  life in a the social media lane.  The mean things said about Gaby have been released into the cyber world and have a ripple effect for all to see. And if there is a grain of truth in the ridicule, whether people voice it themselves, many secretly agree with the criticism, and chuckle under their breath.  Gaby needs to learn to cope with life instead of dissolving into tears of self pity.  She should use Twitter to redeem herself.  One paragraph written in response to all of her critics could squelch them, because she possesses a talent that they don't! "The same fire that melts wax, makes steel hard".  Enough with being a wimp! And enough of wishing that what has become an institution in our society is going to go away because it's wrong. That's not how things work. Children have to be taught to be civil and considerate because these traits don't come natural to them, It's naive to expect integrity from folks who can hide behind the hash tags and screen names. that enable them to release their inner child. :o  

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I agree, I saw Gabby's hair and I knew the feral children out there in social media would probably have a field day.  I thought this lesson was learned four years ago...  Media who give a crap about Black people would either ignore it or identify it for the stupidity it is.   I guess the morons on "Black Twitter" would be happy if Gabby's hair was exactly like some little white girl, in a artificially relaxed ponytail...

This is why so many Black girls avoid sports like the plague--they are too worried about messing up their hair!  Black Twitter: Dissing Black women while enriching white men

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