Lies, Gaslighting and Propaganda

80 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2020 Last revised: 19 Aug 2020

See all articles by G. Alex Sinha

G. Alex Sinha

Quinnipiac University School of Law

Date Written: March 7, 2020

Abstract

It is commonplace to observe that digital technologies facilitate our access to information on a scale unimaginable in previous eras, leading many to call this the “Information Age.” The vaunted advantages of unprecedented data flow obscure a dark corollary: the more modes of engaging with data are available to a people, the more modes are available for manipulating them. Whether through social media, blogs, email, newspaper headlines, or doctored images and videos, the public is indeed bombarded by information, and much of it is misleading or outright false. Much of it, in fact, is propaganda. As the methods for manipulating mass audiences continue to multiply, a clear understanding of the concept of propaganda has never been more relevant.

This Article constructs a precise, novel account of propaganda, incorporating notable scholarly insights into the concept as well as the overlooked lessons of the law’s fragmented efforts to regulate it. To bring this new theoretical framework into focus and demonstrate its importance in the Information Age, the Article connects the underlying theory to contemporary communications practices, many of which are enhanced by the availability of new technology. Notably, in doing so, the Article also develops the first systematic account of political gaslighting, which properly understood (and counterintuitively, perhaps) constitutes a form of propaganda.

Keywords: Freedom of expression; propaganda; gaslighting; lies; technology; social media; politics; Trump

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Sinha, G. Alex, Lies, Gaslighting and Propaganda (March 7, 2020). 68 Buffalo Law Review 1037 (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550591

G. Alex Sinha (Contact Author)

Quinnipiac University School of Law ( email )

275 Mt. Carmel Ave.
Hamden, CT 06518
United States

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