News about fake news stole the limelight from mainstream media beginning with the 2016 presidential election. At 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 5), University of Arizona law researcher Mark Verstraete will share his perspectives on this rising phenomenon, as well as the conclusions he and UA colleagues reached in a major study about fake news and its impact.
Verstraete and his colleagues have identified four types of fake news: hoaxes, satire, propaganda, and trolling. He points out that identifying fake news is difficult, and that news organizations have a big role to play in stopping its dissemination. He also says the financial incentives for fake news stories through Facebook are a major problem.
“Facebook is optimized to keep people on their platform, so a lot of times fake news stories will appear prominently in their news feed, where people are more likely to engage with them,” Verstraete notes.
In the fake news study for which he is lead author, Verstraete suggests several solutions: expand legal protections for internet platforms to help them pursue editorial oversight functions; create new digital platforms that do not rely on online advertising; encourage existing platforms to identify and flag fake news; and encourage platforms to use their own powerful voices to criticize inaccurate information.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2016, Verstraete joined the UA Law School’s Center for Digital Society and Data Studies as a postdoctoral research fellow on the subject of privacy and freedom of speech. He also investigates how technology and law distribute power across such networks as government and civil society, as well as the implications of these distributions. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2013 with a degree in philosophy.
Written by Fred Volkmann, Academy Village Volunteer