TWIG 657: You Can't Shoot Their Feet

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

Another great show. Joan is a fantastic guest and looking forward to reading Meme Wars once it’s released.

Related (I think) to the topic of disinformation through social media, I’m currently reading a book called Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. While there’s a fair bit around the impact of technology on our attention spans, it goes into how technology has simply rapidly accelerated a trend that was already happening for other societal reasons over decades.

As such (at least from what I’ve read so far) it goes into a bit more depth and scientific studies around why specifically social media has accelerated (and exploited) this trend instead of just being a moral panic book that so many others on this topic get easily seduced by.

When discussing what the responsibilities of the social network companies should be in regards to disinformation on their platforms; one of the key arguments raised in the book is the lack of drive for these companies to change while their business models rely on keeping user attention to maximise the time they are using their service.

Unfortunately, because it’s in our nature to be more engaged through outrage; the metrics for misinformation is more likely to be higher than for more accurate sources of information.

As a result, it seems that even if we have improved methods to absorb quality information; misinformation will always be presented more as long as algorithms are aligned to the existing business models for these companies.


My parents used to play a game when they were children, where they would hammer out kick on the door of a random house, then run away.

Looks like there is nothing new in this world.

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You grew up in a barn? :wink:

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Damned autocorrect!

In another thread, it changed “or” into “orifice” after I had read the word! I don’t know why, but it seems to sometimes wait a couple of words, then go back an “correct” things.

Aww that’s too bad. I rather liked the idea of kicking a random horse then running away. It adds to the danger.

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@Leo talked about the value of having access to more information, rather than less, in the hopes that you’ll wade through the trash and only keep the treasure. I don’t think people’s minds work that way, though. I think repeated exposure to mis/dis-information is problematic itself. Ideally everyone would think critically about what they read, but the flood of news is such that there is rarely sufficient time for that. So while you might critically judge and reason over a handful of stories, a bunch more have slipped past your filter. Some of those will get incorporated into your “prior knowledge” without having earned their way in there. Now when you do try to reflect, there are going to be bits and pieces of information in there that you’re not fully aware of.

I don’t know that there is a good solution to this. I just wanted to express some skepticism about the idea that people can reason their way around misinformation.

Also, Jeff noted that a high percentage (53%? I don’t recall specifically) of people say they do not believe what they read on social media. I’ve done survey research academically and professionally and I can tell you that people are generally terrible at this kind of thing. I would bet that many people who say they don’t believe what they see on social media still behave as if they do, incorporating what they read into their beliefs and/or sharing what they see.


I wish Jeff would expound on his thoughts that’s it’s okay to lie about and distort legislation (or ideas or science or actions) one doesn’t believe in. So, is disinformation okay if one agrees with the result?

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VERY good point! Anything Jeff is not fond of is a source of disinformation :grinning: