Stand with #Standing Rock: Location spoofing in social media in the post-truth era

Authors: Yuanyuan Tian, East China Normal University, Bo Zhao*, Oregon State University, Shaozeng Zhang, Oregon State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Cartography, Applied Geography
Keywords: social media, big data, accuracy, data quality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bayside A, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While big data generated by internet users have been unanimously celebrated and increasingly drawn upon in and beyond the high tech industries for over a decade now, “post truth” has seemed to strike us by surprise since 2016 especially in social media and been univocally condemned as blasphemy to the digital age. This paper seeks to confront the ongoing debates surrounding post truth and fake information by examining user generated big data on social media. It does so by focusing on locational data, the most fundamental kind of information in big data, generated by geo-tags and location check-ins on social media. More specifically, we study a collective activity on Facebook in this paper. On October 28, 2016, enormous Facebook users falsified their check-ins to an Indian reservation at Standing Rock, North Dakota, with the goal of supporting the local protest a crude oil pipeline which will pass through. This paper reveals the strategies and generative mechanism of such fake check-ins. We aim to advocate a multi-facet understanding towards fake locational information and to avoid a relatively simple dichotomous interpretation. Considering this study, we would like to call on GIScientists and geographers to directly confront this complicated issue underlying big (geospatial) data, and advocate more discussion on the ontology and value of geospatial data in the post truth era.

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