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Book Launch Video, Podcast: Sinan Aral Takes on “The Hype Machine”

September 14, 2020

“Election 2020 will be the most vulnerable yet to foreign media interference due to a perfect storm of social media, social unrest, fake news and a pandemic….unless we act now.”

That’s one of the many warnings from a new book about the rising influence of social media by MIT IDE Director, Sinan Aral, who also helped uncover Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt (on-sale September 15), Aral takes stock of social media’s ascendance and provides “clear-eyed prescriptions for how we can protect ourselves and democracy from fake news deception and social media manipulation.”

Watch the video here.

Aral advances the narrative about social media from the early days of techno-optimism to the backlash against big tech to our current phase of grappling with how to master its power instead of letting it master us.  Aral explores:

  • What we know about election interference in 2016 and the new strategies Russia, China, and Iran are employing in 2020.
  • The spread and impact of coronavirus misinformation worldwide and IDE’s work with WHO on COVIDConnect, a fact-checking WhatsApp channel.
  • The nuts and bolts of how fake news works and how cascades of misinformation move through the world.
  • The steps we—as individuals, policymakers, or business owners—must take to thwart election influencers and prevent the spread of fake news.
  • What social media companies can do to stop fake news on their platforms and whether breaking up Facebook and others will help or make the problem worse. 
  • What neuroscience tells us about why we are so susceptible to fake news and how we can break the cycle.

The Hype Machine shows us that fake news is not inevitable—it has patterns and processes that can be disrupted if we learn how, according to Aral. 

Purchase “The Hype Machine” here.

Read this new interview in the MIT Sloan Management Review (SMR) and book excerpts by MIT Sloan.

Also, Listen to this Podcast from MIT SMR with Sinan Aral.