Regulating the spread of online misinformation
Contribution to a Book
The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology
Attempts to influence people’s beliefs through misinformation have a long history. In the age of social media, however, there is a growing fear that the circulation of false or misleading claims will be more impactful than ever now that sophisticated technological means are available to those who desire to spread them. Should democratic societies worry about misinformation? If so, is it possible and desirable for them to control its spread by regulating it? This chapter offers an answer to these questions. First, I propose a definition of misinformation and explain how it proliferates in online contexts. Second, I consider four reasons to worry about misinformation by discussing its likely impact on people’s political opinions, emotions, physical safety and personal autonomy. Third, I assess three strategies for regulating misinformation-individual self-regulation, platform-based innovations and governmental action-and suggest that the most effective ones are those that spare human agents from having to successively review individual pieces of content.
Étienne Brown. "Regulating the spread of online misinformation" The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology (2021): 214-225. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429326769-26