The Problem of Spotting Fake

Martin Thörnkvist
Jan 4, 2019 · 2 min read

“Just because you read it in a magazine
Or see it on the TV screen
Don’t make it factual”

— Michael Jackson, Tabloid Junkie (1995)

Johan Farkas, Malmö university, speaking at Deep Cuts #1.

At Deep Cuts #1 Johan Farkas (PhD Fellow at Malmö University in Media and Communication Studies) talked about the problem of spotting fake news’ in digital media. He shared his research showing that in a lot of cases the problem is that there is no false information to spot.

“The information was not fake. There was nothing to spot.” — Johan Farkas

Where Beatrice Harty before him shared how advance technology gives the opportunity to fabricate digital media that looks real, Johan showed how hard it is to spot fake in news because it’s not fake per se.

“It’s not really fake news, it’s curated news” — Johan Farkas

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Johan Farkas, Malmö university, speaking at Deep Cuts #1.

One of the methods being used by those who want to skew the debate is to first become part of a movement, then when trust is created amplify one-sided information.

What we’re seeing is how the resolution of fake is increasing, that bad fake is easy to spot but that that is not the problem, the problem is rather that a lot of fake is very sophisticated and well orchestrated.

“Do not listen to what I say. Just listen to what I can keep silent” — Manic Street Preachers, This is Yesterday

Further reading and watching
Fake News as a Floating Signifier: Hegemony, Antagonism and the Politics of Falsehood (2018, article)

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