telephoneFormer grad students and postdocs may be familiar with this comic, which makes light of the process by which a piece of information (in this case, scientific findings) warps into something else entirely as it gets passed around.

Last month, the New York Times featured a story on the journey of a piece of Russian propaganda from a parody website to its eventual reporting on, with pit stops at Facebook and a few British tabloids.  The story was about purported Russian technological capabilities.

Perhaps the more interesting part of this anecdote is the lesson it provides on how easy and fluid (mis)information really is.  Like much fake news, the story was based on a kernel of truth. But with a mix of intentional and unintentional edits, full-fledged “fake news” resulted.  As the nature of information sharing continues to democratize, certainly the value of that information- truth- and otherwise, will evolve as well.