In America it’s called “truthy”. Here, in the UK, it’s been referred to as counter-knowledge. It’s the unintentional distribution of falsehoods (misinformation) and/or the deliberate spreading of lies (disinformation) on the Web.
The post-industrial society is often referred to as the “information society,” in which knowledge, and the information used to construct it, is crucial to the functioning of our civilisation. Of course, the Web, at least for now, coexists with all the sources of information that predated it. However, information online presents us with new dimensions to an old problem. There are anxieties about its quality, how it is packaged, commodified, codified, distributed, interpreted, and operationalised. Dysfunctional information online is said to represent a profound risk to society. Deliberative democracy, social cohesion, our values and even our health is in jeopardy. Nothing is immune; there is even said to be a risk our sense of identity will be corrupted by dysfunctional information online because as, a Demos report said, the Web is “central to forming our attitudes our beliefs our views about the world sense of who we are within it”.
My research asks:
How do young people interpret information online?
Is there really access without discernment?
Is there a problem with dysfunctional information online?
Who says it’s a problem? Why is it a problem? Why it is dysfunctional? Why does it matter it’s online? What’s unique and novel about the Web?
Is the best solution to teach young people to think critically about information on the Web? If so, how?