ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOX) - Conspiracy theories thrive online. How can you unravel them to get to the truth? "That's one of the big issues with conspiracy theories because we can't disprove them, right?" says Media Literacy expert Julie Smith, "there's no proof that big foot exists, but there's no proof that he doesn't." Smith and KMOX Virtual Consumer Editor Megan Lynch take a deeper look at how conspiracy theories circulate online in their latest podcast. Click on the link below to listen.
Smith says computer algorithms do play a role in how much you might be exposed to conspiracy theories online. "They play an enormous role because say, for example, if you're on YouTube and you might watch one conspiracy video about something, if you watch that video all the way through, if you like it, or if you comment on it, you are giving YouTube that information. Remember YouTube's whole job is to keep you on their website. Not necessarily to feed you accurate information. They just want your eyeballs. So the algorithm picks up on that. So now YouTube's recommended videos on the side are going to be more videos like the one you watched all the way through and the one you liked."
Smith says while many conspiracy theories may start with a nugget of truth, the rest of the theory is hard to prove or disprove. For more on conspiracy theories, memes, and other questions about the media, check out other episodes of the podcast "What the Media?!!?" found here and on Apple, Google and Stitcher.