These decisions are not made with malice. They are made behind analytics dashboards, split-testing panels, and walls of code that have turned you into a predictable asset — a user that can be mined for attention.
The project of the media, of communication in general, has never been to produce truth, but rather to produce meaning. When we talk about solutions, we want to harken back to a time where that cultural narrative production was cohesive and tightly controlled; when our “imagined communities” had defined boundaries. But power has always wielded that capacity as a weapon. If we situate the problem and seek solutions to it at the level of citizen journalists and techy trolls — whether through regulation, algorithms, stakeholder activism, or individual agency — we tacitly propose retrenchment: doubling down on recentralized power and control. With concerted effort, we might be able to debug the problem of asymmetric fake news, but fake news itself is a feature, not a bug, of western civilization.