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The consequences of misinformation: A symposium on media and democracy

The spread of false information is hardly new or unique to the current political moment. It has historical roots in sensationalist journalism, foreign espionage, propaganda, and partisan debates—a collection of approaches far richer than suggested by the phrase “fake news.” This historical context does not make disinformation any less dangerous, however. Understanding how disinformation is exploited by political actors both internal and external to the state, how existing divisions and polarization create the conditions for disinformation to be more effective, and the ways in which technologies incentivize or disrupt disinformation, is critical.

On May 31, Governance Studies at Brookings and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) will host a half-day forum on the history, circulation, and management of misinformation (untruths circulated without the intention to deceive) and disinformation (untruths intended to deceive). Several panels of experts will convene to explore the most effective means of identifying and countering false information, as well as the challenges in doing so. Social scientists and journalists will speak to three aspects of the current moment in misinformation: the status of facts/persistence of misinformation; the speed, virality, and spread of misinformation; and what we—or anyone—can do to correct or manage the misinformation that already exists.

After the each session, panelists will take audience questions.



Welcome Remarks

Status of Facts/The Persistence of Misinformation

John Bullock

Associate Professor - Northwestern University

The Spread of Misinformation

Rob Faris

Research Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society - Harvard University


Correcting (or Managing) Misinformation

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