The Fake News about Fake News
David Coady (University of Tasmania)

October 23, 2018, 4:00pm - 5:30pm
PHI research group, Deakin University

C.2.05
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood 3125
Australia

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Deakin University

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ABSTRACT

It is widely believed that we are facing a problem, even a crisis, caused by something called “fake news”. Governments and other powerful institutions around the world have adopted a variety of measures to restrict the reporting and dissemination of claims they deem to be fake news. Many of these measures are clear breaches of fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I argue that, contrary to common opinion, there is no new or growing problem of fake news. There is instead a new and growing problem caused by the term “fake news”. I argue that although this term has no fixed meaning it does have a fixed function. It functions to restrict permissible public speech and opinion in ways that serve the interests of powerful people and institutions, and that the current epistemic panic over so-called “fake news” is a serious cause for concern. There are of course, as there always have been, plenty of false reports masquerading as news (I regard the term “false news” as an oxymoron, like “false knowledge”). However, the solution to the problem of bad news remains what it has always been: more news, accompanied by more discussion of its credibility.

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