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Hate speech, populism and fake news

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Published on Apr 14, 2017

We talk a lot at the moment of fake news, whether we think of Trump’s tweets, Putin’s control of the Russian media or the false promises spread by some Brexiteers during the UK’s EU referendum campaign. We might have a new word for this but it is plain, old-fashioned, populist propaganda, lies and half-truths, seeking to muddy the waters and twist reality for political gain. The internet, social media and 24-hour news cycles have made their job all too easy.

Fake news is not the only addition to the political lexicon in recent years though. ‘Truthiness’, ‘post-fact’ and the use of ‘metropolitan liberal elites’ as a pejorative, are all part of a wider movement against expert opinion and reasoned analysis towards a world of half-truths where views and opinions are reported as facts. We must not underestimate the difficulty in counteracting these forces. Trust in governments, politicians and traditional sources of media is low and they are deemed to be biased. Indeed, the arguments put forth by official institutions, even very credible ones, to counteract fake news are derided as nothing more but the same thing: merely another opinion, a different point of view.

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