- "Fake News": False fears or real concerns?
- Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
- Volume | Issue number
- 35 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Institute for Information Law (IViR)
“Fake news” has become a much-used and much-hyped term in the so-called “post-truth” era that we now live in. It is also much-maligned: it is often blamed for having a disruptive impact on the outcomes of elections and referenda and for skewing democratic public debate, with the 2016 US Presidential elections and Brexit referendum often cited as examples. “Fake news” has also been flagged for fuelling propaganda and “hate speech” and even violence. “Pizzagate” is an infamous example of exceptional circumstances in which a false news story had a central role in a shooting incident. In December 2016, a man in Washington D.C. took it upon himself to “self-investigate” a story (a completely unfounded conspiracy theory) that the Hillary Clinton campaign team was running a paedophile ring from the premises of a pizzeria. Shots were fired and he was arrested and charged with assault and related offences.
Given all this bad press, it is perhaps little wonder that “fake news” has become a major preoccupation for international organisations, national law- and policy-makers, the media and media actors, civil society and academia. But what exactly is “fake news” and what is all the fuss about? In addressing these questions, this column will also consider historical and contemporary perspectives on the term and its relationship with human rights.
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