Throughout this course, we'll be using a mixture of both weighty and trivial examples. Sometimes it may seem there's not much downside to being misinformed: who really cares if the "Alexa Voice-Activated Toilet" is real or Monster Brand Caffeinated Ham is fake?
But there are serious social implications to people not paying attention to where their information is coming from.
The video below primarily makes a point about Google. But given the facts presented here, is there a way that a lack of web literacy also played a role?
One of the patterns we see in online radicalization — from Nazism to ISIS — is that people often begin their journey by discovering information on the web from extremists that shocks them. Usually they are unaware — initially — of the source of the information, and if they were aware of the source they might be more skeptical of the information presented. By the time they understand who is supplying the information and what their motives are, they are already aligned with those organizations' viewpoints.
Once a person starts down the conspiracy spiral, it's very hard to get back out. There is such a gap between what they see in "respected" sources and what they see from extremist sites that they come to believe the respected sites must be in on the conspiracy. And while in the past many people might hold one or two conspiracy theories, the hyper-connected, algorithmic nature of the internet creates a situation where believing in one conspiracy theory may lead to your exposure to more and more radical conspiracy theories.
Next up: Conclusion of Lesson One