A28: GI_Forum Opening Keynote: Monica STEPHENS: "Data & Deception: Geographies of Misinformation and Incivility in Social Media"
Data & Deception: Geographies of Misinformation and Incivility in Social Media
University at Buffalo (SUNY), USA
Malicious actors, trolls, foreign governments, spammers, and bots are flooding the information stream with contested realities. Social media algorithms prioritize popular content—converting tweets into legitimate information reproduced and debated in traditional news media. This process exacerbates disagreement about the role of evidence-based practices and scientific expertise by blurring the line between specialists and laypeople. While some repositories of crowdsourced knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap) can achieve remarkable standards of quality content, other authoritative sources of Volunteered Geographic Information (e.g. Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook) have furthered the circulation of misinformation, incivility, and discord. This talk will summarize empirical research into the inequalities in geographic information production; the use of artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms to automate anti-vaccine sentiment on Twitter; and vulnerabilities of communities to bad actors producing user-generated geographic information. The geographies of social media and misinformation have profound implications on information production and consumption patterns, public opinion, civic engagement, and community dynamics.