Combatting Disinformation: Active Citizenship and Progressive Politics in the Age of Fake News
When the World Wide Web was finally made public on 6 August 1991, most political pundits greeted this event with excitement enthusiasm, claiming that this new form of virtual technology will be an absolute boon for democracy. The free flow of information, they argued, will not only empower ordinary citizens, but would also undermine ossified bureaucracies and disrupt outmoded forms of administrative practices.
In fact, as late as 2003, communications professor Gary Selnow of the San Francisco State University was still insisting that the “internet can play a significant role in preparing people for the transition to democracy,” since “it links people across borders (and) prepares people for an open and civil society.”
Other scholars, however, have been more cautious, stating that communications technology can be a powerful political tool in the hands of skilled spinmeisters. Francis Fukuyama, for instance, once asserted that “communications technology itself is value-neutral,” and that “they would have been used to great effects by Nazi propagandists like Leni Reifenstahl and Joseph Goebbels to promote fascist rather than democratic ideals.”