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What Will Misinformation Look Like In 2022? Professors From Multiple Fields Weigh In

Experts from different fields across different universities come together and offer a look into what misinformation will look like in 2022.

2020 and 2021 were terrible years in terms of misinformation, and I mean terrible. Combine a virus with a vaccination campaign, add a layer or ten of constant socio-political destabilization, top it with a US president whose entire campaign was built upon blatant lying, and we’ve got the perfect recipe for a misinformation sundae. Let’s be honest, though: information dissemination was never an unadulterated concept, even as far back as the ‘70s. The Vietnam War and Watergate are only some of the examples we have of there being so much information being spun around that discerning fact from fiction became impossible. It’s not surprising that once again, at the gate of turmoil under duress, we’ve fallen into the same old habits and are currently warring with each other over even the most basic of facts and figures.

All of this, however, is what has defined 2020 and 2021. What does the future hold for misinformation and its dissemination? Well, let’s stop by our three experts and gauge their opinions on the matter. Dan Hee Kim, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Arizona, conducted his own research in the matter, assisted by his peers: S Mo Jones-Jang and Kate Kensi. His data on the matter revealed that misinformation was a concept that more often than not was disseminated through social media outlets, and most often was distributed by fringe groups attempting to create divisions and discord. Such groups often relied on making conventional news outlets scapegoats, blaming them for being the root cause of misinformation. If that doesn’t sound like Trump, I’ll let my more far-right leaning readers take a minute to accept why they’re wrong, and then get back to the article.

Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor of public policy, communications, and information at UMass Amherst expects misinformation to play an even more politically-charged role in coming times. Since misinformation is currently utilized as a form of propaganda, with entire campaigns dedicated to the process, it’s not a far stretch to assume that future forms of this figurative disease will already be oriented towards discrediting other points of view. The recent US elections are a very relevant example, with online groups and Republican politicians alike doing everything in their power to discredit Joe Biden’s rise to presidency.

Last, but certainly not least, on our list of experts is Anjana Surani; professor of information systems at the University of Michigan. Surani reminds readers of how hoaxes have been around since forever, with the Great Moon Hoax dating as far back as 1835. However, misinformation was easier to control back then, since the lack of social media meant that regulation was an easier process overall. Surani’s comments on misinformation lay down online regulation as a major reason as to why the form will never really leave. She also highlights that gender and racial bias is carried almost inherently by social media platforms (remember Twitter’s photo cropping algorithm?) will prove to be a major hurdle in coming times.

Photo: FreePik
H/T: Theconversation.

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