Citizen Engagement in the Contemporary Era of Fake News: Hegemonic Distraction or Control of the Social Media Context?

Paper by Paul R. Carr, Sandra Liliana Cuervo Sanchez, and Michelli Aparecida Daros: “Social media platforms have gained prominence worldwide over the past decade. Texts, images, recordings/podcasts, videos and innovations of all sorts have been created, and can be shared and disseminated, including fake news in all of its dimensions. By playing supposedly a neutral political role, social media platforms are accessible to users, generally without discrimination, in addition to being a lure and target for certain/targeted constituencies. Political parties and politicians have proved that they can shape, influence and win elections through social media and strategies such as ‘Twiplomacy’. Social media has the potential to be a democratizing force, yet corporate, neoliberal and hegemonic forces have a tethered grip that can control large swaths of what is happening. This article presents a case study of Spain in relation to fake news, disinformation and misinformation concerning immigration, underscoring that fake news in Spain, like elsewhere, has a long-standing foundation. We explore citizen engagement in the era of social media, referencing as well fake news in Europe and the USA, and make connections with the potential for media literacy as a means to more effectively navigate the murky waters of vast, interwoven online/offline, formal/informal, mainstream/alternative experiences, identities and realities. Lastly, we discuss the implications and consequences for media literacy and democracy, which, we believe, needs to be a central feature of the debate…(More)”.