An interview of experts in 2017 identified one of the grand challenges of the 21st century as addressing the breakdown in trusted information sources. A majority of Americans agree.
Yet cyberspace has made it increasingly easy to ensconce ourselves in self-reinforcing communities of the like-minded where we hear, see and share only those facts—or fictions—that support our personal interests and ideologies. The internet and social media often insulate their users among ideological kin, and prompt them to distrust all others, heightening polarization. The prominence of disinformation and “click-bait” headlines designed to lure visitors onto fake news websites has exacerbated the trend.
The phenomenon of viral outrage has a similar digital fingerprint. Newspapers and news programs have long employed the criterion that “if it bleeds it leads.” Today, however, social media bleeds with far less restraint. Tweets, posts and pics that shock and morally outrage are shared more often, spreading faster and farther in cyberspace and hardening ideological worldviews.
This workshop will address the growth of polarized distrust the face of online misinformation and viral outrage, and explore avenues for responding creatively to the widespread disintegration of public trust.