Muddied Waters: Online Rumors, Conspiracy Theories, and Disinformation in the Context of Crisis Response
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
Abstract: 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
Speaker Bio: Kate Starbird is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington (UW). Kate's research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics—the study of the how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. One aspect of her research focuses on how online rumors spread—and how online rumors are corrected—during natural disasters and man-made crisis events. More recently, she has begun exploring the propagation of disinformation and political propaganda through online spaces. Kate earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Technology, Media and Society and holds a BS in Computer Science from Stanford University.