David Livingstone Smith, associate professor of philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Me, to the New York Times. Disruptions: Twitter’s Uneasy Role in Guarding the Truth.
Last week saw a lot of handwringing over misinformation spread through social networks about the effects and responses to Sandy as the storm hit the east coast. In particular, to the @comfortablysmug Twitter feed where Shashank Tripathi posted purposefully fabricated stories that first responders needed to respond to set the record straight.
Rumor, fabrication and outright falsehood has been around since anything’s been around though. If it’s not that humans like to lie, a good portion of us do… or least tell a good yarn.
Important though is that while our social media provides an easy outlet for misinformation to go viral, it’s also a platform for crowdsourcing corrections more quickly than ever before. Or, at least, that’s the optimists view.
Pessimists can point to censorship and propaganda regimes that flood social media, message boards and other online gathering places with a consistent barrage of misinformation of their own.