I spent several months researching to answer the question, why does disinformation spread, and how critical is this issue to our general discourse and to politics and fair elections, among other topics? The result of these months is a 15,000 word essay, Weaponizing the Internet. This is version 1.0, published on March 19, 2003.
I have now published version 2 of this essay, in October, 2023, Weaponizing the Internet V2.
Included in this essay are conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate, and the rise of alt-right sites like Breitbart News and InfoWars. I discuss how Trump exploited this environment, and how foreign powers are able to exploit our own rules for freedom of speech while maintaining a tight control of censorship at home. I also discuss how we are inherently lazy, and our needs to belong. And I note how the algorithms of social media platforms conspire to elevate disinformation.
Anyway, there’s a lot in there.