Post-truth under the lens of Science

26 May 2018

Byens Lys

Walter Quattrociocchi

Walter Quattrociocchi is currently heading the Laboratory of Data Science and Complexity at the University of Venezia. His research interests include data science, cognitive science, and dynamic processes on complex networks. His research, based on an interdisciplinary approach, focuses on the information and misinformation diffusion, and the emergence of collective narratives in online social media as well as their relation with the evolution of opinions. Homepage

M. Rexen

"Over​ ​the​ ​last​ ​few​ ​years​ ​I​ ​have​ ​dedicated​ ​my​ ​time​ ​to​ ​visiting​ ​neolithic​ ​sites​ ​around the​ ​world.​ ​Through​ ​these​ ​adventures​ ​I​ ​have​ ​begun​ ​to​ ​regard​ ​these​ ​sites​ ​as​ ​healing centers​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​tombs​ ​or​ ​religious​ ​sites;​ ​places​ ​where​ ​the​ ​lethargy​ ​imbedded​ ​in our​ ​modern​ ​bodies​ ​evaporates​ ​effortlessly.​ ​Pyramids​ ​especially​ ​rock​ ​my​ ​world.​ ​Our world,​ ​I​ ​should​ ​say." - M.Rexen Homepage

What is a post-truth society? How is misinformation being spread in social media? Can this be tracked with computer science techniques? What are the implications of fake news for society?

Before the web, you got your information from magazines, television and the newspapers. Now anyone can create a blog, have a Tumblr page or post their opinions online. From there, you can spread that information rapidly through Twitter, Facebook and a whole smorgasbord of other social media platforms. The problem is that while traditional media had editors, producers and other filters before information went public, individual publishing has no filter. You simply say what you want and put it out there. The result is that everyone can produce or find information consistent with their own belief system. An environment full of unchecked information maximizes the tendency to select content by confirmation bias.

Recent studies that focus on misinformation online pointed out that the selective exposure to specific content leads to "echo chambers" in which users tend to shape and reinforce their beliefs, even if the information is false. An echo chamber is an isolated space on the web, where the ideas being exchanged essentially just confirm one another. It can be a space of likeminded people sharing similar political views, or a page about a specific conspiracy theory. Once inside one of these spaces, users are sharing information that is all very similar, basically "echoing" each other.

Walter Quattrociocchi and collaborators have studied the dynamics inside a single echo chamber. They found that the most discussed content refers to four specific topics: environment, diet, health and geopolitics. Content belonging to the different topics are consumed in a very similar way by users. Likes and shares remain more or less the same across topics.Focusing on the comments section, however, they notice a remarkable difference within topics. Users polarized on geopolitics are the most persistent in commenting, whereas those focused on diet are less persistent.

Many types of rumours are spreading. Pages about global conspiracies, chem-trails, UFOs, reptilians. One of the more publicized conspiracies is the link between vaccines and autism. These alternative narratives, often in contrast to the mainstream one, proliferate on Facebook. On Facebook, likes, shares, and comments allow us to understand social dynamics from a totally new perspective. Using this data, we can study the driving forces behind the diffusion and consumption of information and rumours.

Exciting but cooled down with homemade cocktails while M.Rexen and his 12 musicians - the house band for this season - will be taking the stage and playing their third and last performance out of 3. M. Rexen's​ musical styles seem to pour out of a gigantic kaleidoscopic vortex. These years you can see live performances with his 12 piece band which are effortlessly surprising, feeding off the endlessly vibrant Rexen. Sure to entertain an audience looking to get lost in a multi-denominational play of melody, orchestral instruments and fairy tale voices matched by a true rock and roll spirit. This season M. Rexen will mainly communicate through Mr. Rexen's Musical Memoir Quest, a web series showcasing the bands live performances and studio activity alongside shots from Rexen's personal lakeside home.

Entrance to the event is free. Event held in English. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:00. CASH ONLY.