The Metro: Former US Attorney Barbara McQuade on the ‘sabotaging’ impact of disinformation

McQuade joined “The Metro” to discuss her new book, “Attack from Within,” which describes how to identify and fight the spread fake information.

"Attack From Within," by Barbara McQuade.

"Attack From Within," by Barbara McQuade.

University of Michigan Law Professor and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade has seen firsthand how disinformation can impact political work and conversations.

She joined The Metro on Wednesday to discuss her new book, “Attack from Within,” which describes how to identify and fight the spread fake information.

McQuade says propaganda and disinformation is not new to politics, especially in the age of social media.

“We’ve seen these issues before,” she said. Now, McQuade says, “social media allows us to reach people instantly, and it allows bad actors to abuse these platforms.”

For that reason, McQuade says, it’s important to take steps to fight disinformation, even if the spread of fake information in society can’t be stopped entirely.

“I do think there are a number of things we can do to reduce disinformation and get back to talking to each other,” she said. “Some are at the governmental level and some are more at the individual level.”

There are first amendment concerns when it comes to moderating content posted on social media, McQuade says. One recommendation she offered is to start moderating algorithms from companies like Meta, where a whistleblower in recent years said the algorithms are designed to feed users content that is more likely to cause outrage. 

“We can tell them you can’t do that, you know. You have to sift through things that users preference. Or you have to at least disclose the algorithms out there so people know when they’re being manipulated,” McQuade said.

Read also: Former US Attorney Barbara McQuade releases new book on fighting misinformation

More headlines from The Metro on March 13, 2024:

  • WDET’s Stephen Henderson sat down with Wayne State University Anthropology Professor Felicia George on Created Equal to discuss her new book, “When Detroit Played the Numbers,” which explores the game’s impact on Detroit’s Black community.
  • Asia Hamilton is one of 10 BIPOC Detroit artists receiving a grant from the Gilbert Family Foundation to find ways to embed art in Detroit’s neighborhoods. WDET’s Sascha Raiyn spoke with Hamilton to learn more about the program.
  • The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County aims to research, collect and preserve the history of the Black community in Washtenaw County. The museum will soon have a permanent home at a historic farmhouse being remodeled in Ann Arbor. Khalilah Burt Gaston, executive director of the Song Foundation, joined the show to discuss how the new location is taking shape. 
  • Detroit producer and DJ Nick Speed  joined The Metro to discuss a new hip-hop focused class he’s teaching at Wayne State. In celebration of 313 Day, Speed will also be performing at WDIV’s free celebration at Valade Park and Playground Detroit.

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