Fake news, conspiracy theories, and lies: an information laundering model for homeland security
Korta, Samantha M.
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The purpose of this research, broadly speaking, is to expose the threat that fake news poses to our national security. This thesis answers the question: Can the information laundering model, or a modified version of it, be used to explain how the internet is exploited to spread fake news, and the resulting threat to the United States? I assert that a well-crafted narrative, whether true or false, can be spread rapidly online due to the accessibility and interconnectedness of the internet ecosystem. I then articulate how these narratives can be further accelerated and disseminated when propagandists take advantage of existing processes that improve the customization, ease of access, and availability of information online. I do this by modifying the information laundering model, and then using the new model to examine the interconnectedness of search engines, blogs, social networking platforms, and media/academic outlets, and how these connections can be exploited to launder false or purposefully misleading information into public discourse. Finally, I demonstrate how this process allows adversarial nations, criminals, and malicious actors to increase public discord, undermine democracy, and threaten Americans’ physical and cognitive security.
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