Misinformation Equilibrium

2 min read

Given the state of political discourse (or what passes for political discourse) in the US, and the resounding and ongoing success of misinformation spread via online media, the people spreading misinformation have a decided advantage.

What I've been seeing (although this is anecdotal and based solely on non-scientific observation, so take it with a grain of salt): whenever there is a topic that is remotely controversial, bots and trolls get active in amplifying the extreme positions. They don't need to make a point, or even to have a specific position "win." All they need to do is stoke distrust, which in turn makes it more difficult for actual inhabitants of these United States to talk with one another.

Because we are primed to mistrust based, we make the work of people spreading misinformation that much easier.

So, my question: what are the concrete steps we need to take to repair trust?

(and when I say "repair trust" I'm not saying accept hatred, racism, neo-fascists, or anything like that. Denying the humanity of people is a hard red line that has no place, and deserves no quarter. But for the rest of us - how do we set aside mistrust and find something that looks like common ground? How do we avoid getting derailed by the forces that thrive on our divisions?)