Muddied Waters: Online Disinformation During Crisis Events

Kate Starbird

Hot Topics In Computing - September 12, 2018

Kate Starbird, University of Washington

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, especially within online spaces, to absorbing and passing along misinformation. Increasingly, it appears that certain actors are exploiting these vulnerabilities, spreading intentional misinformation—or disinformation—for various purposes, including geopolitical goals. This talk explores some of the motivations and tactics of disinformation, explaining how geopolitical actors use social media and the surrounding information ecosystem to sow doubt and division.

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 to focus on 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.

 

Hot Topics in Computing

This series of discussions represents an opportunity for our community to hear from CSAIL and other experts in computing, engage in a conversation about what is the potential, what is actually achievable, and what problems need to be solved to get to the holy grail.