Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shutting down fake news could move us closer to a modern-day ‘1984’; Washington Post, February 10, 2017

Fleming Rose and Jacob Mchangama, Washington Post; Shutting down fake news could move us closer to a modern-day ‘1984’

"It is understandable that liberal democracies are deeply worried about disinformation, which tears at the fabric of pluralistic democratic societies. John Stuart Mill famously argued that free speech would help exchange “error for truth” and create “the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” Yet this justification weakens considerably if lies and disinformation become indistinguishable from truth. In such an environment, “Democracy will not survive a lack of belief in the possibility of impartial institutions,” political scientist Francis Fukuyama recently wrote.

“Instead, partisan political combat will come to pervade every aspect of life.”
That is indeed a nightmare scenario to be avoided. But using legal measures to counter disinformation is likely to be a cure worse than the disease. One does not need to go back to the Cold War to worry about what happens when governments become the arbiters of truth."

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