The Internet has become a plague on democracy. Worldwide, we have seen the surge of disinformation, hate speech, and hackers. Online violence and disinformation have had a chilling effect on citizen participation, undermining democracy in all its key elements. To counter these threats, numerous tools and platforms have emerged. However, these platforms have so far been ineffective at opposing disinformation. I argue that to design effective tools we need to first understand how people produce disinformation, and how they are fighting back to overcome disinformation.
In this talk, I first present my large scale data analysis research on how a political troll community fabricates disinformation and engages people to participate with them. Using framing theories from collective action research, I uncover that posts that integrate conspiracy theories are the most effective at driving participation with the political trolls. Next, I present a multi-platform large scale data analysis on how people organize to fight misinformation in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I uncovered that citizens created micro-tasks to facilitate participation from a wide range of specialists to limit misinformation. Armed with the knowledge of my data analysis, I present a new architecture that goes beyond fact-checking and instead focuses on crowdsourcing citizens to overcome conspiracy theories and strengthen democracy.
Claudia Flores-Saviaga is a Fellow at Facebook Research and a Ph.D. candidate in the HCI Lab at West Virginia University. Her research involves the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Crowdsourcing, and Social Computing. She is interested in understanding how “bad actors” organize disinformation and propaganda messages, and how other citizens organize to debunk those manipulative campaigns. She uses this knowledge to then design intelligent systems that can fight disinformation at scale. Her research has been covered by the Associated Press, Newsweek, and Buzzfeed, as well as national television. Her research has caught the attention and has initiated collaborations with different think tanks and organizations such as the Wikimedia Foundation, the Atlantic Council, the National Democratic Institute, and the Organization of American States. Previously, Claudia worked as a technical adviser to the Governor of the State of Veracruz in Mexico and has provided technical advice to the presidency of Mexico. She is currently collaborating with Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fight political disinformation targeting LatinX immigrants. Claudia has a master’s degree in Information Technology from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).