Real Talk About Fake News

Speaker: Nabiha Syed in conversation with Claire Wardle and Joan Donovan
Date recorded: Feb 28, 2018
Nabiha Syed explores how our existing theories surrounding the first amendment are inadequate to address the current state of “fake news” and “bad” online speech.

Real Talk about Fake News | Nabiha Syed in conversation with Claire Wardle and Joan Donovan: “Fake news” isn’t exactly new: Tabloids have long hawked alien baby photos and Elvis sightings. Many have thus argued that fake news—propaganda, misinformation, and conspiracy theories—have always existed, and therefore requires no new consideration.

When we agonize over the fake news phenomenon, though, we are not talking about these kinds of fabricated stories. What we are really focusing on is why we have been suddenly inundated by false information—purposefully deployed—that spreads so quickly and persuades so effectively. This is a different conception of fake news, and it presents a question about how information operates at scale in the internet era.

In this Databite talk, Nabiha Syed explores how existing First Amendment theories fail to adequately explain our digital information economy, and how that theoretical incoherence leaves users and social media platforms ill-equipped to deal with “fake news” and other “bad” speech online. Nabiha also offers several factors to be considered in any systemic theory that can help move us beyond the troubled status quo.