UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it
Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach. 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,’ ” she says. “But you don’t realize it all traces back to the same place.” She’s concluded, provocatively, that we may be headed toward “the menace of unreality — which is that nobody believes anything anymore.”