Search Engines as Gates and Gateways to Misinformation
Search engines are indispensable tools for navigating our information worlds. They can prioritize authoritative sources and de-prioritize problematic content; they can label results and contextualize search headings; but they can also be gateways to misleading information obfuscated in ads and hard-to-debunk, video content.
Given this potential, what are the effects of skewed or misleading query results? And do these misleading results alter collective perceptions of health, science, and political discourse?
In this talk, I will explore these questions through two recent publications. In the first paper, we audit search results for misinformation during the 2020 U.S. election. In the second paper, we look at the impact of academic search engines and recommender systems on the construction of the scientific literature. I will also talk about next steps for this kind of research and how it can inform search literacy efforts.
This seminar will be held both online & in person. You are welcome to join us either in South Hall or via Zoom.
For online participants
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Jevin West is a visiting associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Information and an associate professor in the Information School at the University of Washington (UW). He is the co-founder and the inaugural director of the Center for an Informed Public at UW, aimed at resisting strategic misinformation, promoting an informed society and strengthening democratic discourse.
His research and teaching focus on the impact of data and technology on science, with a focus on slowing the spread of misinformation. He is the co-author of the book Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World, which helps non-experts question numbers, data, and statistics without an advanced degree in data science.