We are just two weeks after the election and while people focus on different questions, from why did the polls misestimate voting patterns to questions on concessions and legal battles, I would like to focus on another question, which may seem somewhat unrelated at first. Still, I find it as one of the root causes of these two issues. In one of my most recent research project, my co-authors and I try to answer a simple question: why is it that we become more polarized even though we have more information sources than ever. Why is it that we "can't understand how anyone would vote for the other candidate"? How is it possible to have multiple narratives that seem to be completely conflicting on questions that seem factual in nature? While it is easy to dismiss these as fake news issues, I do not think it is all that simple.
Wow. This is so powerful—thank you for sharing! Completely agree that social platforms create both an overwhelming amount of information and increasing dissonance of information. There's so much that people can't make sense of the information anymore. Rhetoric becomes more attractive; people give up on their own sensemaking and outsource "truth" to whatever charismatic leader happens to look like they have it together. This is incredibly problematic and scary... people need enough information to understand problems (without distortion) to make good choices and participate in governance.
I'm excited about interrupting that feedback loop of what content people self-select to consume. Transparency around an author's credibility could re-enable the public to take ownership over their truth-making. How might this credibility rating be established? It seems like it would need to be bottom up/crowd-sourced — is that possible? Is there a threshold where people are so polarized that it is impossible to agree on the credibility of a source?
Great read and as I was reading it I was thinking how can this be solved? In my opinion diversity of thought and opinion is very helpful to social progress but conspiracy theories, "fake" news, and propaganda are very dangerous. While social media is a new platform the issues we face have been faced before in other formats. I don't know if there is a way to solve this problem without encroaching on some other important values like freedom of speech.
Gad, Wonderful read. Many thanks for sharing.