Kate Starbird

Title: Muddied Waters: Online Disinformation during Crisis Events 
Speaker: Kate Starbird, Assistant Professor in Human-Centered Design and Engineering, University of Washington
Date: March 20, 2018
Time: 12:00-1:00pm
Room: Newell-Simon Hall 1305

Since 2013, my collaborators and I have conducted research on how rumors and misinformation spread through social media during crisis events. Recently, our work has revealed how a subsection of the alternative media ecosystem facilitates the spread of disinformation—in the form of conspiracy theories or “alternative narratives” about man-made crisis events. This disinformation is often employed as part of political agendas and poses information security risks, in part through reduced trust in information systems. In this talk, I’ll present highlights from our research on alternative narratives of crisis events, describing some of the specific tactics and emergent effects of disinformation. I’ll also share some preliminary findings on more recent work examining the structure and dynamics of the media ecosystem that has taken shape around the ongoing crisis in Syria—an ongoing “site” of information warfare. Finally, I’ll discuss some of the broader implications of online disinformation for humanitarian responders, platform designers, and society at large.

Kate Starbird is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington (UW). Kate's research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics—the study of the how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. One aspect of her research focuses on how online rumors spread—and how online rumors are corrected—during natural disasters and man-made crisis events. More recently, she has begun exploring the propagation of disinformation and political propaganda through online spaces. Kate earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Technology, Media and Society and holds a BS in Computer Science from Stanford University. 

Find out more about Kate Starbird at http://faculty.washington.edu/kstarbi/.