When I stopped by to see him, my <loved one> explained that he turned down my invitation to visit tonight b/c he needed to watch “the last speech by Trump before he could go to jail”. Later, he expressed confusion when I said there were videos of violence against police on 1-6.
All he does is watch “news” all day. How could he live in such a vastly different reality? I showed him a few videos of January 6 and he was so confused.
My <loved one> asked about my work and I explained how we were helping people see how content reached them, using the Seth Rich conspiracy theory as an example. <Loved one> pivoted the conversation w/ something about “redactions" & how that theory just might be true after all.
In the subsequent (45 min) conversation, the following topics were raised by my <loved one>: Hillary Clinton (emails), Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner (laptop), Hunter Biden (laptop), Steele Dossier, Joe Biden as senile, and Kamala Harris as somehow nefarious.
The conversation ended with me explaining that yes, there WERE videos of ACTUAL violence on January 6, and showing a few of them to my <loved one>. He was very, very confused and wondered why he couldn’t find them on his TV.
I believe this conversation is an example of a “gish gallop” — where as soon as I tried to make some progress on one topic or claim, one of my <loved ones> just threw out a completely different topic. It’s very disorienting, and honestly exhausting.

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More from @katestarbird

20 Jun
For a 10th birthday my <loved one> gave my <loved one> 3 gifts: a small U.S. flag, pocket Constitution, & Ben Carson's biography, Gifted Hands. Any of these would be fine alone. Together, they reveal structural patterns & psychological effects of long-term exposure to propaganda.
On the same day, for an upcoming birthday, same <loved one> also gifted two copies of “Unrestricted Warfare” to two adults with upcoming birthdays. (I already received mine a few weeks ago.)
Current book on their mantle, for those interested in following whatever toxic Amazon/Fox News recommendations are guiding their choices: “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t"
Read 4 tweets
18 Jun
Can’t they come up with anything new? This is almost exactly the same as the conspiracy theories about the Boston Marathon bombings that claimed they were a “false flag” orchestrated by “black ops” elements within the U.S. government. See our 2014 paper: faculty.washington.edu/kstarbi/Starbi…
We wrote two follow up papers that covered that conspiracy theory with more depth and from different angles:

Here’s a tweet, posted less than a day after the Boston Marathon bombings, that contains the same core claim:
Read 4 tweets
21 May
Going into Election2020, researchers w/ the @2020partnership rapidly analyzed social media data to identify false & misleading claims meant to sow distrust in the election — now known collectively as “the Big Lie”. This is the story of one (of hundreds) of those claims. Thread.
@2020Partnership This story is from late Sept, more than a month before the election. At the time, the American public was experiencing what Benkler and colleagues referred to as a “disinformation campaign” — designed to create a false expectation of massive voter fraud. cyber.harvard.edu/publication/20…
@2020Partnership For months, Pres Trump & his supporters had been pushing a range of false, misleading, and exaggerated claims meant to sow distrust in the mail-in voting process specifically and the election results more generally. Here’s a tweet from June:
Read 15 tweets
14 May
Per a researcher request, we’ve assembled a list of the top most-retweeted tweets in the # StopTheSteal conversation between Nov 3, 2020 and Jan 7, 2021. Some highlights below.
Most retweeted StopTheSteal tweet was authored by @realDonaldTrump on January 3. It’s a quote tweet about the January 6 protest, to which he adds: "I will be there. Historic day!” It was retweeted 51,137 times (according to our data).
@realDonaldTrump 2nd on list, ~45,000 RTs, realDonaldTrump (Jan 3): 'Georgia election data, just revealed, shows that over 17,000 votes illegally flipped from Trump to Biden.” @OANN This alone (there are many other irregularities) is enough to easily “swing Georgia to Trump”. #StopTheSteal...'
Read 14 tweets
6 May
Working on some visuals to help explain the dynamics of “participatory disinformation” and how that motivated the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Image
Let’s start from the beginning. We have “elites”, including elected political leaders, political pundits and partisan media outlets, as well as social media influencers who have used disinformation and other tactics to gain reputation and grow large audiences online. Image
We also have their audiences — the social media users and cable news watchers who tune into — and engage with — their content.
Read 22 tweets
30 Apr
Sharing a draft of a conceptual model I’m working on to explain how online social networks, algorithms, and human action are all mutually shaping. Yes, people choose who to follow and that shapes what they see, but those choices are shaped by the algorithms.
This builds from a “structuration” approach to understanding the mutual shaping of social structures, human action, & technology. I was inspired by @sinanaral’s comments last week at the Social Media summit discussing this relationship b/w structure and agency in online ads.
@sinanaral And it emerges from a conversation w/ @alexstamos about the role of our social networks in shaping what we see (and what we do) online. It’s not networks OR algorithms. It’s BOTH. And they work in interaction with each other, and human behavior.
Read 6 tweets

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