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Information Wars: A Window into the Alternative Media Ecosystem – HCI & Design


(Alastair Tibbitt) #1

This is an interesting contribution to the fake news debate:

From another perspective, these properties of the alternative news ecosystem — the proliferation of many and even conflicting conspiracy theories and the deceptive appearance of source diversity — may reflect the intentional use of disinformation tactics. Though we often think of disinformation as being employed to convince us of a specific ideology, in a 2014 article titled “The Menace of Unreality”, Pomerantsev and Weiss describe how Russian disinformation strategies (which they trace back to Lenin) are designed not to convince but to confuse, to create “muddled thinking” within in society. Their strategic argument is that a society who learns it cannot trust information can be easily controlled. It is possible that the current media ecosystem — including the alternative media domains and the social media platforms that help spread links to these domains — is contributing to muddled thinking (a relative or effect perhaps of an crippled epistemology). It is not yet clear if these effects are related to purposeful disinformation campaigns or are just emergent effects of our current information space. It seems researchers have some work to do to both clarify what is happening here and to perhaps think about designing systems that are more resilient to disinformation.