Posted: 18/07/19

Social media companies are under increasing pressure to stop the spread of misinformation online but reward users to constantly post content in order to be social, contributing to the problem.  Addressing this topic, the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, an SFI Research Centre, hosted a public lecture recently by Nolen Gertz titled ‘The Social (Media) Construction of Truth’ in the Trinity Long Room Hub.  

Professor Gertz is a technology ethicist and assistant professor at the University of Twente.  During this talk he will examine the concerns surrounding the dangers of democracy posed by social media platforms and how they are being threatened by our human need to be social rather than the nature of the social platform that is being used.

Gertz explored how Facebook encourages users to constantly post content in order to be social, and to constantly post content likely to get attention in order to remain social. Facebook also encourages users to share attention-grabbing content. Consequently, Facebook users spread fake news, not because they don’t care about what they are sharing, but because they care about being social, which, thanks to the influence of Facebook, means they care about being seen by the algorithm. According to Gertz, if we want to remove fake news from social media platforms then we must begin by understanding how these platforms influence us and how these platforms shape what “truth” means.

Full lecture is available online.

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