Explore the Future of the Web

The UX of Conspiracy Theories

The communications industry has been fooling itself about the power of messaging. Digital technology allows people to make up their own stories now and conspiracy theories are going mainstream like never before. Conspiracy theories exist to fill in where information doesn’t exist, isn’t available, doesn’t make sense, can’t be accepted or just doesn’t feel right. We know that much, but what we don’t accept is their recent prevalence represents the ugliest underbelly of design debt that we could possibly imagine. When things are so bad that no one can tell fact from fiction, bad design threatens business, politics and public safety in ways we could never have imagined. Designers have to decide if the experience they provide through technology will support or diminish harmful narratives that feed fringe fantasies. We will also need to restructure products, services and entire businesses so that communications are real because they are genuine. So, what is our role as Designers to face these challenges? We must examine our intentions, rebuild trust and know how to prevent our work from being hijacked as part of someone else’s version of reality.

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