Social media provides the ability to connect—but it has come with a concerning spread of misinformation, profoundly affecting society and our collective perception of reality.
The majority of Americans agree that this is a critical issue. They believe social media companies are responsible for the spread of misinformation and that this problem has negatively influenced the way we engage in the type of political discussions that are essential in a deliberative democracy.
A primary cause of this issue is that the technologies behind these platforms have progressed without the necessary balance of the humanities and human factors input.
Additionally, since these platforms primarily aim to market products to users, they are not actually designed to service the public sphere in the way we have been using them.
Consequently, algorithms and design features inadvertently amplify misinformation, because it boosts engagement and enhances the platform's ability to market to its users.
To address this important issue, it is necessary to create a social media platform designed specifically to serve the public; many suggest that education is the key service needed to effectively confront the problem of misinformation.
With all of this in mind, I created Plural—a public service social media platform designed to promote responsible information sharing, educate the general public, and counteract harmful polarization.
The foundational design feature is the ability for users to build their own knowledge base, which then contributes to the larger searchable and citable plural knowledge base.
This gives users the ability to source throughout the platform. When users encounter a source in a post or comment, they can then go to the text if they own it or if it is free access. If not, they can go to the Quickreads version, which is a curated selection of the top 10% of user highlights from a given text.
Users are also able to flag comments and posts for common fallacies that typically lead to falsities, as a way to warn the community to be skeptical of the information being shared. Though this process, users are also learning the critical thinking skills necessary to discern what information is trustworthy.
Another key feature is the ability to post highlights of a given text directly from the Plural reader, which gives users the opportunity to learn the most up-to-date knowledge directly from their feed. The feed also shows the user a visualization of their algorithm, so they can keep tabs on if they are becoming polarized into one specific area of thought. Users also earn reputation badges to incentivize best practices when communicating knowledge, and to signal trustworthiness to other users.
One of the best features of Plural is the ability to meaningfully connect with friends, authors, and mentors. Users can see what the people they look up to are reading and what ideas they find valuable. When looking at another’s profile, users can also see a visual representation of their algorithm to understand how it will affect their own, empowering them to better curate a safe digital space for themselves.
Prototype - Web Application
Prototype - Mobile
Your personal information library. Store books, collections, papers, and videos.
Opens the reader to the last page you were reading. From there you can read, highlight, share highlights and access your Notebook.
The top 10% of highlighted content is collected into the 'quickread' version of the text--making sifting through research more efficient while also creating a way to share paywalled research content with the general public.
Conventional social media with a twist. Share ideas you value, see what ideas others value, and learn something new from a trusted source.
Take notes and discuss ideas and texts with friends, groups, a class, or the entire plural community.
programs used in this project & presentation