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The Perils of Misinformation and Disinformation

Understanding it and then trying to counter it.

I watched this entire Harvard webinar today: “Dismantling disinformation.” It is described below:

“We’ve all seen the perils of disinformation. But how do we combat it? This panel will explore concrete proposals for dismantling disinformation in communities, on social media, and through public policy and regulation. We’ll bring together experts from multiple fields — including communication, education, behavioral psychology, and First Amendment law — to tackle an issue that could well shape the future of public health. This is a conversation about solutions, and the role each of us can play in limiting the impact of false content.”

Here are a few items of information that I picked up:

  • The First Amendment primarily applies to government.
  • Disinformation is direct falsehoods that are intentional and meant to cause harm.
  • Like everything else, we need to tailor our messages to the audiences we are trying to reach.
  • It likely has to be incremental in changing people’s opinions about misinformation that has been spread.
  • Some self-governing bodies are starting to police their ranks. Medical professionals who are hawking false cures can be defrocked.

Who was on the panel? See below.

Brandy Zadrozny
Senior Reporter, NBC News

Dolores Albarracín
Alexandra Heyman Nash University Professor University of Pennsylvania

Vineet Arora
Dean for Medical Education
The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

Raven Baxter
Director of Diversity Initiatives
University of California, Irvine, School of Biological Sciences

Renée DiResta
Research Manager
Stanford Internet Observatory

Nabiha Syed
CEO of The Markup and Fellow at Yale Law School
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.