“The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor. Your brain tells you ‘Hey, I got this from three different sources.’ But you don’t realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn’t know how to vaccinate for it.”
Kate Starbird is a professor who studies how social networks respond to disasters and she’s plenty concerned about the state of information these days.
The Seattle Times interviews her about her findings and explains how we’re losing the information war, noting that “strange clusters of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach.”