Fake news: is it a threat to public participation?
Where satire attempts to undermine autocracy and prejudice; the worst of fake news feeds into prejudices and seeks to create community outrage, undermine public confidence in our political leaders, and steer public policy towards a particular ideology.*
Fake news articles spread across the internet like a bacterial infection. And like an infection they take hold and thrive in the darkest of places. One of the biggest publishers of fake news in the US bases his entire business model on the fact that fake news flourishes by feeding into preexisting conspiracy theories and prejudices.
What is fake news?
‘Fake news’ generally refers to disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes. Satire and ‘spoof news’ stories can be difficult to distinguish from, and have in fact been confused with, fake news. But where satire seeks to ridicule and thereby undermine an accepted dogma or a political opponent’s argument by holding up a mirror to it, fake news sets out maliciously to undermine public confidence. Satire is a defender of democracy and antidote to autocracy. Fake news is the autocrat’s friend.
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