Free Speech, Free Press, and Fake News: What If the Marketplace of Ideas Isn't About Identifying Truth?

36 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2019

See all articles by Keith J. Bybee

Keith J. Bybee

Syracuse University - College of Law; Syracuse University - Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Laura Jenkins

Syracuse University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 1, 2019

Abstract

It is important to evaluate fake news not only for the misinformation it contains, but also for the forms of communal identity it facilitates. Fake news can certainly mislead and harm those who consume it. But fake news, like all news, is also used by the public to articulate and confirm a sense of membership. Current efforts to weed out fake news stories from social media platforms and from public discussion are aimed at improving the accuracy of information in circulation. While such efforts may marginally increase the reporting of true information, they will not alter the underlying dynamic of identity formation that leads ordinary people to employ the news as a means of developing feelings of belonging.

Keywords: Fake News, Free Speech, Free Press, Democracy, Truth, Imagined Communities, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville

Suggested Citation

Bybee, Keith James and Jenkins, Laura, Free Speech, Free Press, and Fake News: What If the Marketplace of Ideas Isn't About Identifying Truth? (January 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3400882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3400882

Keith James Bybee (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - College of Law ( email )

321 Eggers Hall
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244-1030
United States
315-443-9743 (Phone)

Syracuse University - Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs ( email )

400 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

Laura Jenkins

Syracuse University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

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