The unedited public sphere

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51 Citations (SciVal)


The health of democratic public spheres is challenged by the circulation of falsehoods. These epistemic problems are connected to social media and they raise a classic problem of how to understand the role of technology in political developments. We discuss three sets of technological affordances of social media that facilitate the spread of false beliefs: obscuring the provenance of information, facilitating deception about authorship, and providing for manipulation of social signals. We argue that these do not make social media a “cause” of problems with falsehoods, but explanations of epistemic problems should account for social media to understand the timing and widespread occurrence of epistemic problems. We argue that “the marketplace of ideas” cannot be adequate as a remedy for these problems, which require epistemic editing by the press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-715
Number of pages16
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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