Understanding the spread of fake news
In the attached article Pier Luigi Parcu (European University Institute) discusses the issues of disinformation and hate speech in digital media.
Since 2016, in the wake of the campaign for the EU referendum in the UK and the presidential election in the US, various researches have been launched to analyse the online diffusion of fake news, in particular through social media networks like Facebook or Twitter. While the circulation of false news and of misleading information is not a new phenomenon, the speed and scale reached through digital platforms has caught great attention. Research shows that ‘false news’ tend to spread more widely and rapidly than true ones. In addition, there has been an increase in the use of social bots, which produce content automatically and post on social media in order to manipulate information, spread rumours, and convey an impression of popularity of particular messages.
Pier Luigi Parcu also points out the threat of hate speech online:
Hate speech has become a common pattern of political propaganda, even in established democracies, targeting minorities, women, migrants, weaker elements of society, or simply the diversity of opinions. The phenomenon has been exacerbated by the relative anonymity that is allowed to the haters by the Internet. This creates an obvious reluctance from more reasonable and moderate voices to join any public debate on the Internet, thus immediately contributing to the further radicalisation and polarisation of the online debate.
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How do you react when you encounter disinformation or hate speech in social media? Do you think individuals can act against these or is public action needed?**
© European University Institute