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CITP Virtual Seminar: Kate Starbird – Online Rumoring, Misinformation, and Disinformation: A Retrospective on a Decade of Research

Monday, February 12, 2024
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


Photo Kate Starbird

This virtual talk is open to Princeton University faculty, staff and students via Zoom. You must sign in to Zoom using your account that is connected to Princeton University. This talk will not be recorded.

At the University of Washington, we have been studying online rumoring for more than a decade and have had a front row seat as misinformation—and its more nefarious cousin, disinformation—have grown and metastasized within social media platforms and the broader information ecosystem. This talk will draw from that body of work, featuring four case studies, to demonstrate some of the salient dimensions of online rumoring, misinformation, and disinformation, how they have evolved over time, and where they intersect with the design of sociotechnical systems, human psychology, and intentional manipulation. An emerging conceptualization of these phenomena through the lens of collective sensemaking, as an interaction between data (or evidence), interpretations, and frames will be presented . Finally, we will discuss some of the challenges that researchers in the field are facing—from data access issues to harassment and legal threats—as our work documenting the manipulation of online systems draws attention from the people and organizations that perpetrate and/or benefit from that manipulation.


Kate Starbird is an associate professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) and director of the Emerging Capacities of Mass Participation (emCOMP) Laboratory at the University of Washington. She is also adjunct faculty in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and the Information School, and a data science fellow at the eScience Institute.

She is a co-founder of the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, which formed in 2019 around a shared mission of resisting strategic misinformation, promoting an informed society, and strengthening democratic discourse. Her research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics — the study of how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. Her research examines how people use social media to seek, share, and make sense of information after natural disasters (such as earthquakes and hurricanes) and man-made crisis events (such as acts of terrorism and mass shooting events). More recently, her work has shifted to focus on the spread of disinformation in this context. Starbird’s research touches on broader questions about the intersection of technology and society—including the vast potential for online social platforms to empower people to work together to solve problems, as well as salient concerns related to abuse and manipulation of and through these platforms and the consequent erosion of trust in information.

If you need an accommodation for a disability please contact Jean Butcher at  at least one week before the event.