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State of the State podcast explores social media impact on spread of misinformation

L to R: Grossmann, Ballard, Weinfeld (photo taken before pandemic)

On this month’s State of the State podcast from MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, hosts Arnold Weinfeld, Charley Ballard, and Matt Grossmann welcome MSU Assistant Professor of Communication Dustin Carnahan to the program to discuss his research into political information seeking behavior with an emphasis on the role of communication processes in forwarding and correcting misinformation. 

Before exploring Carnahan’s work, Weinfeld, Ballard, and Grossmann talk about the impact of the Derek Chauvin conviction and the likelihood that it increases the chances for federal legislation. They say some more modest reform legislation could pass in some states, but that federal action is unlikely.

They talk about how important video was to the George Floyd case and what, if any, impact Chauvin’s conviction will have on the economy and income inequality.

On the economy of Michigan and the country in general, Ballard says we’ve climbed back much of the way – not all the way – from the devastating losses of a year ago and where the economy was in February 2020. Despite much of the good the federal stimulus dollars are doing for the economic recovery, Ballard sees himself as a “lone wolf” in voicing concern about the country’s long-term debt, now north of $20 trillion.

Dustin Carnahan

Grossmann and Ballard both talk about the impact of the infusion of federal stimulus funds and how long they will last. Are many Americans beginning to expect a check from the government every so often?

In describing his research, Carnahan says that conspiracies are not a new problem. What’s new is how the social media accelerate the spread of misinformation and make it more visible to a larger group of people.

Carnahan also defines what he means when he says social media are good at sowing confusion and what “flooding the zone” means.

“A lot of my research is primarily interested in how we go about trying to correct misperceptions once misinformation circulates,” says Carnahan.  

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870 and streams at wkar.org. Find "MSU Today with Russ White" on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

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