Accidental Ammunition for the Infowars

I’ve been checking in on the trials against Alex Jones for a while. I still recall where I was when I first heard about Sandy Hook. Horrified and shocked by the shooting, I almost had to leave work early that day. I wasn’t surprised, however, that even this horrific shooting 10 years ago didn’t result in meaningful gun reform. Though I am continually surprised and horrified hearing how the grieving parents have been terrorized. This is mainly due to conspiracy theories on Infowars that Sandy Hook was a hoax.

This latest twist, of the wrong information ending up in the wrong hands, is an irony nobody could have anticipated. Apparently Jones’s lawyers mistakenly sent two years worth of texts to the plaintiffs. Some of the texts may be evidence that Jones perjured himself.

From my perspective, it highlights two important aspects of the digital age of information. Though I would never recommend hiring Jones’s lawyers, I’m glad they messed up.

  1. Making mistakes like this, i.e., sending the wrong information, is easy to do.
  2. There’s too much information to manage! This leads to human errors. .

I can’t know for sure how the lawyers exchanged information. However, my thought is that some of it happened through email. At one point or another, I’m sure we’ve all mistakenly attached the wrong version of a document. Or maybe hit “reply all” instead of to one recipient. Or maybe linked to the wrong source. Perhaps even emailed the wrong person. It happens.

There are lots of reasons why this happens. Many people don’t take the time to name their documents properly. I see vague, nondescript document titles all the time. Or worse, people leave the random computer/scanner generated name as the title. Another challenge is with version control. Many organizations haven’t implemented proper systems to manage document versions effectively. In these scenarios, it’s easy to circulate, or use, the wrong version.

This all leads to the second point. The volume of information we all interact with daily makes it unmanageable. Now I’m not excusing the incompetence of Jones’s lawyers. It’s their job to share the right information. I’m pointing out that when people are managing huge volumes of information from a variety of sources (e.g., texts, emails, images, documents, social media apps, etc.), things can get messy. But if it leads to an infowars win on the right side of things, I’m not complaining.

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