Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How the "fake news" hype is a new tool of power and control

The circulation of the "fake news" discourse reinvents the Cold War narrative of geoinsecurity to reinforce the power and control of hegemonic power structures globally.

In the hands of the global elite, "fake news" is the new instrument for reproducing elite power and control, recycled as the weapon for silencing difference, working through the role of the state in carrying out techniques of social media governmentality.

The manufacturing of threats serve the strategic purpose of introducing greater and newer methods of repression.

Similar to the strategic manufacturing of the "Red threat" as a basis for authoritarian control and repression during the Cold War, the manufacturing of the "fake news" agenda serves as the pretext for the reproduction of draconian laws that fundamentally threaten free speech and freedom of expression. As in the instance of the "Red threat," the paradox of the "fake news" trope is its reproduction of the false perception of "threat" to shape public opinion in support for techniques of repression.

Authoritarian states find the premise of "fake news" as the perfect alibi for introducing new measures of authoritarian control, albeit through the performance of engagement.

Even as these measures of repression are being introduced to curtail diversity of public opinion on online spaces, nation states continue to be one of the key sites of production of fake news through their instruments of propaganda. Obfuscated in this conversation is the fact that some of the greatest sources of falsehoods are nation states, in instances working in collusion with transnational corporations, to reproduce elite power.

Although the fear of foreign governments and interests influencing local politics is the new discursive trope on the horizon, this "fear of foreign influence" has long been deployed as a strategic device for introducing laws that silence free speech and enable the reproduction of hegemonic power.

Moreover, even as the trope of "foreign influence" is introduced as a new threat on the horizon of the social media sphere, techniques of influencing and subverting democratic processes have been tried-and-tested tool of the power elite in global geopolitics.

The U.S. for instance, since the 1950s, systematically deployed overt and covert operations to destabilize democratically elected governments across the globe, and especially in the global South. The instruments of the deep state, more specifically instruments such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been the key actors in carrying out these forms of repression, albeit paradoxically in the name of promoting global geosecurity.

In the current environment, it is critical for media scholars to carefully attend to how the "fake news" agenda is being deployed as a repressive strategy for silencing difference and critique.

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