Doubt in Dakota

“Fake news” has poisoned the well of information we all depend on, and it is just one facet of the digital polarization we’ve been studying in Digital Studies. Fake news has made us doubt all news, as it has become so pervasive and convincing that all consensus on the facts has evaporated in the heat of the battle between what is true and what supports our own opinions. A brilliant new project, the Digital Polarization Initiative, aims to combat this problem and put us all back on an even playing field. This wiki turns every outlandish claim tumbling down your Facebook feed into a mini research project, including the one I worked on.

A report on Softrep claimed that there was a huge oil spill just 150 miles away from the highly contested Dakota Access Pipeline, which I honestly doubted considering I hadn’t heard about it on any of my normal news outlets. It turned out to be  true. 176,000 gallons of oil leaked into a creek 2.5 hours from the NoDAPL camp, but the site that made the claim throws up a bit of a red flag, as this US Special Ops news site that focuses on military issues and politics, so the environmental article was a little out of place. They plagiarized most of it from CNBC, and left out some context, but the facts of article were true.

This example and many others like it wait on DPI to challenge our bias and find the facts. It’s a life raft in this sea of disinformation, and there’s room for everyone. Welcome aboard.

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