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Submission + - The Highway to Hell: Misinformation Superhighway? 1

jpapon writes: Increasingly, I find that comment threads attached to articles of mainstream news outlets (and others) are being derailed by shills of one faction or another. Meaningful discourse is drowned out by a group of people who incessantly criticize, repeat a point of view, or worst of all, deliberately spread misinformation. Whether the process is performed consciously or subconsciously, older means of communication tend to give us some insight into the trustworthiness of a source. The Internet, on the other hand, gives us very little to work with when trying to determine if a poster is a protester being shot at, or rather a government shill posting propaganda.
This naturally leads to the question of what can we, as technologists, do to prevent this? Is it possible to retain the anonymity of the Internet while preventing large organizations from spreading propaganda? Or is the Internet doomed to become a vast wasteland of meaningless disinformation, where large organizations jockey for position in the race to control public opinion? Should we try to erect barriers against disinformation, or, as the principles of free speech seem to dictate, must we simply accept that even shills have a right to be heard?
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The Highway to Hell: Misinformation Superhighway?

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  • The problem, as always, is that it's non-trivially difficult to create solutions that are effective in filtering bias without at the same time restricting free speech to the point that comments become uniformly representative of a predetermined-as-"good" point of view.

    And I have no solution to contribute, other than the obvious one of including a warning about civility and factuality as a header to the comment input box.


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