In a world of fake news and disinformation, how can anyone make informed political decisions? Is it possible for us all to come together as a nation if we can’t even agree on what’s true? This week, we’re thinking about Disinformation and the Future of Democracy.
In 1729, Jonathan Swift published his satirical essay, “A Modest Proposal,” which offered selling babies for food as the simple solution to Irish poverty. But what if Swift had published a piece presented with the appearance of a legitimate news source, instead of clear satire? Would there be an easy way to tell it was fake news?
It isn't just the United States that is preoccupied with the threat of fake news. In Malaysia, a bill outlawing fake news just passed. The new law could mean jail time for those who not only create but also spread misleading information.
This is a pretty terrible time to be a fan of truth. Politicians have always lied, of course, but few have dared to deny the verifiably obvious, such as the size of an inauguration crowd. Few have perpetuated conspiracy theories, such as the one about Obama’s place of birth.