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Fake News and Misinformation: Mini Lecture Series

Muddied Waters: Online Disinformation during Crisis Events

Kate Starbird headshot

April 18, 5:00-6:15, Bagley 131

Kate Starbird
Assistant Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington. Researcher of crisis informatics and online rumors. Aging athlete. Army brat.

Recent public debate around “fake news” has highlighted the growing challenge of determining information veracity online—a complex problem at the intersection of technology, human cognition, and human behavior. Our strategies for making sense of information make us vulnerable (especially online) to absorbing and passing along misinformation. Certain actors exploit these vulnerabilities, spreading intentional misinformation—or disinformation—for various reasons, including geopolitical goals. Drawing on research conducted on online rumors in the context of crisis response, this talk explores what “conspiracy theories” of crisis events reveal about “fake news”, political propaganda, and disinformation online.

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Cleaning up our polluted information environments

Jevin West headshot

April 24, 5:00-6:15, Gowen 301

Jevin West
Assistant Professor, Information School, University of Washington

Pandering politicians, winking advertisers, startup soothsayers, television “experts”, and even some scientists use the news media to promulgate half-truths, misrepresentations and sometimes outright lies. Falsehoods are not new but the density and the forms in which falsehoods fly online are new. Technology and our legal system are of little help in solving this problem. Cleaning up our polluted information environments requires a digital citizenry that can spot and effectively refute BS. This talk will provide a set of strategies for combatting a particular kind of BS—BS cloaked in data, figures, statistics and algorithms—strategies that are being employed in libraries, high schools and university classrooms across the country.

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The New Global Politics of Weaponized AI Propaganda

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April 30, 5:00-6:15, HUB Lyceum

Berit Anderson
CEO & Editor-in- Chief,, a media company covering the future of technology, its risks and rewards through investigative reporting, analysis, and science fiction.

Silicon Valley spent the last ten years building platforms whose natural end state is digital addiction. In 2016, a small group of powerful actors hijacked them. How powerful individuals and companies are using technology to manipulate citizen behavior and shift the outcomes of elections around the world and what policymakers, technologists, journalists, and individuals can do about it.

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Lectures will be recorded and available here shortly after the event. For more resources on confronting fake news and misinformation, visit a new UW site for faculty and staff educators.