11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Wexner Conference Room, Wexner Bldg., Room 434AB
Speaker Series on Misinformation, co-sponsored by the NULab at Northeastern University.
“Fake news” is a generic term to indicate lies and propaganda presented as news. It is not a new phenomenon. Instead, its novelty lies in the omnipresence of online search and social media technologies. Its potential is in compromising the foundations of Democracy. But how severe is the challenge it presents and what can we learn from the past dozen years of online manipulation during the US elections?
I will start by reviewing the history of online efforts to influence public opinion and elections through the manipulation of the Web and social media. To understand the extent of the problem, I will present documented cases of successful Google and Twitter misinformation campaigns (“bombs”) since 2004. Time permitting, we will discuss some technical solutions proposed over the years, including TwitterTrails, that tracks the spreading of rumors on Twitter. I will end by analyzing why this problem is hard to solve by technical means alone and how epistemology needs to play an integral part of the solution.
Takis Metaxas is a Professor of Computer Science at Wellesley College, studying online social media, primarily related to the propagation of information and misinformation, prediction of political events, and in developing tools that help users evaluate the trustworthiness of information. In particular, with his Wellesley colleagues and students, he has been studying the problem of propaganda and online misinformation since 2002.