The Fake News Epidemic: a False Tale for Democracy?

Anno LVIII, n. 236, gennaio-aprile 2023
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


Alongside the recent Covid-19 outbreak we have seen a real fake news epidemic. Since the 2016 US presidential election, via WikiLeaks, Brexit, the Cambridge Analytical scandal and the Covid-19 vaccines debate, fake news has almost pervasively captured the attention of scholars. The alleged political consequences on public debate have been crucial in many aspects. Hence, this paper evaluates the extent to which fake news can be a threat to the democratic public. Its contribution is twofold. First, it argues that a proper understanding of the problem would require a ‘dynamic’ account of fake news. Contrary to the collective wisdom that sees fake news as a finished product, the paper suggests that the ‘fake’ of fake news can be defined by the selection-replication-mutation mechanisms of users. In addition, the paper claims that people’s moral commitments can play a more relevant role than mere partisanship in selection and diffusion of political fake news.