The spread of disinformation


We are emotional creatures. When we hear about a threat our emotions take over, suppressing our ability to carefully examine the threat. We often simply believe the threat is real and either rise to fight it off or avoid it and hope it will go away. Either way, we're stuck in an adversarial posture. "They" are the enemy, evil, scary. Thank god we have each other. We join ranks, spears outward.

This, of course, happens within the ranks of "the enemy," locking us into a long-term feud. Everything "one side" does to defend itself is perceived by "the other side" as yet another atrocity.

Who benefits from all of this? Many people believe that those who are powerful are the important players. They feel threatened by the possibility of an uprising of "the masses," and respond with compelling statements about corruption, foolishness, waste and interference. Compelling because in some few cases it's all true. Disinformation because those cases are indeed few and this rarity is purposely left unspoken.

What can we do?

This game must have some sort of truth determination accompanied by strong encouragement of transparency. In the opposite direction, privacy must also be respected. It's a heck of a challenge, and well beyond my mental abilities to propose a design. Instead, I pose this as a hard problem worth solving.