From vaccination and climate change to national elections and COVID-19, conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation can spread like wildfire in new social media ecosystems. New marketing tools have allowed extremists and malevolent actors to carry out surgical strikes on public opinion with precision targeted messages.
This three-part webinar series will introduce learners to disinformation as a global phenomenon that has proliferated in the fertile new communication ecosystems provided by social media, new technology platforms and their marketing and business models.
Supplementary materials also provide learners additional resources on the topics discussed in the webinars.
Introduction to Disinformation in a Digital World (Webinar # 1)
In this introductory webinar, we will discuss examples from around the world, including the 2016 U.S. election, COVID-19, vaccination and climate change to give students a greater appreciation of disinformation as a global phenomenon, used by state and non-state actors alike. We will discuss marketing, political and technological strategies that malicious actors are employing. Case studies will also illustrate the ways that disinformation and information operations have changed in recent history, and what can be learned from this.
Participants will understand the strategies and techniques used to persuade audiences in the new information technology ecosystem. Students will appreciate disinformation as a global and historical phenomenon, through an exploration of specific case studies.
Recognising Disinformation (Webinar # 2)
This webinar will explore how to recognise and track disinformation online. We will discuss how to critically assess the narratives encountered on social media and other media/forums and the difference between legitimate differences in opinion and disinformation. The webinar will also explore how fact checking and verification works and how to critically engage in discussions about what counts as truth.
Students will appreciate the importance of critically assessing narratives to recognise disinformation. This webinar will include a brief introduction to fact checking and other ways of verifying information. Students will also learn about a variety of online tools and additional resources to help them better recognise disinformation.
Tracking and Countering Disinformation (Webinar # 3)
Emerging efforts and techniques to counter disinformation will be the focus of this webinar. Students will encounter “Baltic Elves” fighting Russian trolls, communication tips for helping the public be more resilient in the face of disinformation and new open source tools to fight disinformation online. The webinar will explore a variety of proposed ways of defending democratic societies against disinformation, from education campaigns to ‘cyber defence forces’ and various proposals to regulate social media platforms.
Students will gain a broad understanding of the various efforts and proposals for countering disinformation in democratic societies. Students will also be introduced to some new and relatively simple to use open source tools (Hoaxy, for example) for recognising and tracking disinformation in online and social media ecosystems.
The three part series was a fascinating insight into recognising, tracking and countering disinformation and the dark arts of media bias, influencing public opinions, changing election outcomes, conspiracies and the active measures bad actors use to weaponise disinformation to win hearts and minds.
[…] The sessions delivered by Dr Morgan Saletta were well paced and engaging and, along with the informative content, there was plenty of time allowed for discussion and questions. We feel we now know more about how to identify and assess the problem.”