In preparation for a project we were scoping out, a colleague and I were brainstorming some parameters around digital disinformation. One of the questions we pondered was how to identify the root causes of disinformation. In particular, what would we identify as the dominant cause for bottom-up disinformation, as opposed to disinformation coming from governments, corrupt business and self-serving ideological groups.

My answers — xenophobia, science scepticism, mischief — were piecemeal and platitudinous. Her answer was succinct and encompassing: disenfranchisement...

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