ABSTRACT: In this talk, I will discuss how our social computing systems are being used to intentionally spread misleading information and what we — as researchers, educators and designers — might do to address this. Drawing on examples from my research into disinformation campaigns, I will add nuance to our understanding of what they are and undo four commonly held misconceptions about how they work. Specifically, I will focus on the structure and dynamics of these campaigns as they targeted: 1) a humanitarian response group operating in the Syrian Civil War; and 2) a highly charged conversation in 2016 about police violence in America and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I will conclude by highlighting the value of cultivating reflective, interdisciplinary thinking to address some of the challenges presented by online disinformation.
BIO: Ahmer Arif is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington in the department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. His research falls at the intersection of computer science and social science and is situated within the fields of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). He currently studies how people use communication technologies like social media to spread, shape and confront disinformation and misinformation. He also conducts research into designing experiences in which we can reflect on our participation in these information spaces and the effects they are having on us. Beyond academia, he has had the good fortune to work as a researcher and consultant with several large organizations like Facebook, Yahoo!, The World Bank and the UN.