Konrad Shelley

Exploring how the attention economy propels disinformation across the media landscape, and how critical approaches are necessary in not only deciphering disinformation, but also in developing healthy solutions to it.

Visualizing the Problem

The spread of disinformation has become prolific in the modern world as the media landscape facilitates continued engagement with and spreading of disinformation. The attention economy leads media platforms to appeal to users’ habits and interests by promoting like-minded content, which presents ample opportunity for online echo chambers to form and for people to subconsciously access self-validating “research”.

 

Information literacy is a valuable skill that engages more critical mindsets towards consumed content, including disinformation, but it’s only part of a solution. Though tools and resources exist to empower and educate individuals to better analyze and validate the information they come across, it’s only as effective as long as the individual is willing to apply it, and with the ever-growing culture of rapid content consumption, that willingness can easily degrade. Alternatively, by bringing into awareness the forms in which disinformation can appear, audiences can have a much easier time identifying questionable content and engaging their critical thinking skills and tools.

 

Governments and tech companies have also placed some initiatives into combatting disinformation on a larger scale, like we saw during the pandemic, but approaches such as censorship can cause more problems than they solve, as they promote division amongst the believers of either side and play into validating established ways of thinking held by differing community identities. Combating disinformation necessitates a multifaceted approach, including information literacy, individual critical thinking, and cautious consideration of large-scale initiatives to avoid unintended consequences.