A Pandemic of Misinformation: Social Media in the Age of Coronavirus

Last updated: 03-10-2021

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A Pandemic of Misinformation: Social Media in the Age of Coronavirus

A pandemic of misinformation has accompanied the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S. Early confusion over how the virus is transmitted, coupled with medical systems short of PPE and overwhelmed with patients suffering from devastating and unfamiliar symptoms, prepared fertile ground in which conflicting narratives could take root and thrive.

When we add the way that information spreads on social media to our initial struggles to understand the disease, its causes and its treatments, it is hardly surprising that we are arguing over effective treatments: wearing masks, preserving social distance, quarantining, washing hands and, ultimately, vaccinating the population. Meanwhile, the death toll rises in America, putting us in the unenviable position of having a disturbingly high proportion of coronavirus cases and deaths relative to our population.

This event will put ASU expert panelists in conversation, focusing on the way social media facilitates the spread of misinformation and disinformation. Using the coronavirus as an important test case, this panel will address how mis/disinformation spreads and what strategies we might adopt both to recognize mis/disinformation and curtail its spread.

This event is cosponsored by the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and Institute for Humanities Research.

Dan Gillmor, an internationally recognized leader in new media and digital media literacy, is co-founder of the News Co/Lab at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The lab works with partners from academia, media, and technology to improve the public's understanding of how media work, and how to be better able to navigate our increasingly complex media ecosystem. A longtime Silicon Valley-based journalist, Gillmor wrote a popular business and technology column for the San Jose Mercury News and launched a blog in 1999, one of the first mainstream journalism blogs. He has written two books on the development of digital media including _We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People_ and _Mediactive_. He has co-founded two digital media companies and invested in and/or advised a number of others.

Elizabeth Langland is Director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, concentrating on Humane Technology and Ethical Innovation. Her current research focuses on how digital technologies permeate our lives in ways both helpful and harmful. That work has grown out of her expertise in narrative and her understanding of the importance of the stories people tell in shaping beliefs, values and actions, whether those stories are grounded in evidence or not. Prior to becoming Director of the Lincoln Center, Langland has had a distinguished administrative career, serving as Dean at UC Davis, Provost at SUNY Purchase and Vice Provost of ASU’s West Campus and Dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Katina Michael, PhD, MTransCrimPrev, BIT is a professor at Arizona State University, holding a joint appointment in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics and Decisions Systems Engineering. She is also the director of the Society Policy Engineering Collective (SPEC) and the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society. Katina is a senior member of the IEEE and a Public Interest Technology advocate who studies the social implications of technology. She is the Senior Editor of the socio-economic impact section in IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine and was the editor in chief of the award-winning IEEE Technology and Society Magazine. In 2019 she took on the role of working group chair for the IEEE P2089 standard. In 2017, she received the Brian M. O'Connell SSIT Distinguished Service Award.

Kristy Roschke, PhD, is the managing director of the News Co/Lab, an Arizona State University Cronkite School initiative aimed at helping people find new ways of understanding and interacting with news and information. She researches and teaches media literacy courses for learners of all ages in formal and informal educational settings. She previously served as executive director of KJZZ – SPOT 127 Youth Media Center, a community initiative of the Phoenix NPR member station that mentors the next-generation of digital storytellers. Roschke has taught journalism at the high school and university level for 17 years.

Zoom details for this event will be emailed to you by 8 AM Arizona Time the morning of the event. Please check your junk/spam folder for an email from Eventbrite. For any issues or concerns with receiving the Zoom link, please contact Lauren Whitby at lawhitby@asu.edu.


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