Digital Wildfires? Propagation, Verification, Regulation and Responsible Innovation
Social media platforms provide an increasingly popular means for individuals to share content online. Whilst this produces undoubted societal benefits, the ability for content to be spontaneously posted and re-posted creates an ideal environment for rumour and false/malicious information to spread rapidly. When this occurs it can cause significant harms and can be characterised as a ‘digital wildfire’. In this paper we demonstrate that the propagation and regulation of digital wildfires form important topics for research and conduct an overview of existing work in this area. We outline the relevance of a range of work from the computational and social sciences, including a series of insights into the propagation of rumour and false/malicious information. We argue that significant research gaps remain - for instance there is an absence of systematic studies on the effects of digital wildfires and there is a need to combine empirical research with a consideration of how the responsible governance of social media can be determined. We propose an agenda for research that establishes a methodology to explore in full the propagation and regulation of unverified content on social media. This agenda promotes high quality interdisciplinary research that will also inform policy debates.
Citation : Webb, H. et al. (2016) Digital Wildfires? Propagation, Verification, Regulation and Responsible Innovation. ACM Transactions on Information Systems 34, 3 (2016).
ISSN : 1046-8188
Research Group : Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility
Research Institute : Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes