HUMAN-CENTERED VERSUS TECHNOLOGY-BASED APPROACHES TO MITIGATING THE EFFECTS OF WIDESPREAD MIS/DISINFORMATION: WHEN IS ONE APPROACH MORE OR LESS SUFFICIENT?
Greenspan, Rachel L
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The spread of false information online has become a leading threat to the stability and security of democracies across the globe, as misleading information continues to influence the behaviors and attitudes of increasingly polarized populations. Existing literature makes clear that there is great value in both human-centered and technology-based approaches to countering mis/disinformation, and that a sustainable, long-term, whole-of-society solution will require a practical combination of both measures. However, this field of study lacks a clear understanding of under what circumstances each individual approach may be more or less sufficient. This paper will test the notion that as time sensitivity increases in cases of widespread mis/disinformation, that the use of technology-based solutions, involving fact-checking services and the removal of false content and users online, becomes increasingly effective as the primary tool employed to mitigate the effects of mis/disinformation. The method used in this study is a qualitative content analysis of cases of national crises in the United States, including the COVID-19 Pandemic and the rise of Domestic Violent Extremism (DVE). Altogether, the results of this study point to the insufficiencies of technology-based solutions acting alone to mitigate the effects of widespread mis/disinformation specifically under time sensitive conditions associated with national crises. However, this analysis highlights the apparent strengths, weaknesses, and associated challenges of both technology-based and human-centered approaches to mitigating the effects and increasing civic resiliency to mis/disinformation online. In doing so, the study provides further insights into the ways in which technology-based and human-centered approaches can be employed simultaneously, and often in sync with one another, to have the greatest impact.