Local Misinformation, Small Town Populists, and Platform Politics
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As the full impact of diminished legacy news becomes increasingly clear, platforms like Facebook have become the home page, front page, and bulletin board for civic life in communities — essential communication infrastructure. However, big tech platforms aren’t concerned with democracy, just profit. While much is known about how platforms enable misinformation spreading and hyper-partisanship at a national and international scale, far less is known about what happens at the local level. Using research from the PPLN-IL project [Platforms, Politics, and Local News in Illinois], this talk explores the challenges to combatting misinformation about COVID-19 on a local level. Of particular concern is a growing phenomenon: opportunistic local politicians using social media to weaponized national political issues into career-boosting opportunities.
Associate Professor of Journalism