DAVE ROSS

UW professor: ‘No easy solution’ to solving fake news on social media

Dec 27, 2019, 10:47 AM | Updated: 10:54 am
fact-checking, fake news...
Fake news continues to proliferate. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

University of Washington professor — and former Seattle Storm player — Kate Starbird has made it her mission to study and discern so-called “fake news,” but even she finds it difficult to suss out a simple fix to help the average person sort fact from fiction.

UW professor, former Storm player on how lies are spread on social media

“Here’s the thing: There’s no easy solution,” Starbird told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “We’re used to instant gratification — we want to retweet, or repost, or ‘like’ something right away. In reality, it actually does take some time to verify these things are true.”

That uncertainty is precisely the goal of people sowing the seeds of fake news across the internet, from Russian bots, to sensationalist conspiracy theorists.

“One of the things that’s the goal of this information is not to convince you of anything — it’s to erode your trust in information,” Starbird pointed out.

Some of these people are simply seeking to capitalize on a financial opportunity, spreading conspiracy theories to cash in on ad money. Others, though, are what Professor Starbird describes as “true believers.”

A third subset of disinformation peddlers seeks to further a political agenda, oftentimes buoyed by thousands of fake Twitter accounts.

“We often see networks of Twitter accounts that aren’t actually real people,” described Starbird. “They’re run by computer programs, and one person operates the whole computer program.”

“These automated accounts retweet and amplify the messages of different people, different kinds of political propaganda,” she continued. “But we see them active in the conspiracy theory space a lot, where one person will Tweet about an event being a hoax, and then hundreds of bots will automatically retweet it. So it looks like there’s hundreds of people engaging in it, when really, it’s much smaller.”

UW scores $5 million for new center studying fake news

And while it can be tough to find a dependable way to avoid being influenced by this disinformation, Starbird recommends simply doing your due diligence when presented with something suspicious.

“I think it’s up to all of us to go check the credentials of these things.”

Listen to the Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

housing inventory...
MyNorthwest Staff

Housing inventory on the rise in the Pacific Northwest, most available units since 2019

Alongside increased inflation, mortgage rates have spiked nationally, with July's 5.41% mark the highest since June 2009 (5.42%).
3 days ago
alex jones sad jan 6 stop the steal rally...
Dave Ross

Ross: Alex Jones concedes he is 100% a career liar in Sandy Hook defamation case

Do you celebrate because now, even Alex Jones who made a career out of claiming that everything from the Oklahoma City Bombing to Sandy Hook was staged by the government – that even he at last believes?
4 days ago
ferries vaccine mandate staffing...
Dave Ross

Ross: We need our ferries fully staffed to stay afloat, even if it means dropping vaccine mandates

Yesterday it happened again – the already-crippled ferries running from West Seattle had to be cut down to one boat because of mechanical problems.
5 days ago
election ballot child mom...
Dave Ross

Ross: Don’t let this election get stolen … by apathy

Some of you are going to be participating in a stolen election ... because you won’t vote today.
6 days ago
organ doner...
Dave Ross

Ross: Organ donor families finally get a chance to reconnect with the lives their loved ones saved

It was three years ago on this show that we ran an interview with a friend of mine, Jeff Siddqui, about his heart transplant;
7 days ago
ballots for the oath...
Dave Ross

Ross: When voting this week remember the oath that you take

This is voting weekend for the Washington state Primary, and so, this is a good time to remember that when you vote, you take an oath.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
UW professor: ‘No easy solution’ to solving fake news on social media