How online misinformation exploits ‘information voids’

How online misinformation exploits ‘information voids’ — and what to do about it

A study in Nature 1 last month highlights a previously underappreciated aspect of this phenomenon: the existence of data voids, information spaces that lack evidence, into which people searching to check the accuracy of controversial topics can easily fall. The paper suggests that media-literacy campaigns that emphasize ‘just searching’ for information online need to become smarter. It might no longer be enough for search providers to combat misinformation and disinformation by just using automated systems to deprioritize these sources. Indeed, genuine, lasting solutions to a problem that could be existential for democracies needs to be a partnership between search-engine providers and sources of evidence-based knowledge.


Original article


That rather assumes that search-engine providers (and social media providers, etc) have a strong incentive to support functioning democracy, rather than to simply selling more advertising to maximise shareholder wealth.


This is great stuff, thanks for posting. It’s most relevant IMO in the context of elections but also relevant in the communication of science and medicine. In that context I applaud Nature for writing this in their editorial:

Research journals, such as Nature , also have a part to play in bridging data voids; it cannot just be the responsibility of search-engine providers. In other words, any response to misinformation and disinformation needs to be a partnership.


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