Informative Fictions: Truth in Misinformation? Implications for Computational Communication Research

Friday, 22 April 2022, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Zoom

This talk will present a “theory of informative fictions” which argue that false stories, while misleading about the objective world, can provide useful “character information”, which portrays the theory of mind of persons and groups. In particular, it will show that both the information inputs and the system through which predictions are derived are different when predicting the behaviour of objects—which do not make plans or intend to manipulate others—and social agents—who do. The theory has a number of implications for how researchers understand and develop strategies for combatting fake news and other misinformation. The talk will focus specifically on avenues that computational researchers can pursue.

DREW MARGOLIN is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University.  His research uses computational methods, typically combining social network analysis with text analysis techniques, to do theoretical investigations of real-world communication behaviour. His recent topics of interest include understanding and resisting misinformation as well as hidden sources of inequality in the online world. He is particularly interested in learning how to build productive conversations where authority and skepticism are both respected.

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Organized by Centre for Media and Communication Research and Research Postgraduate Studies Program, School of Communication and Film