The concept of “fake news” isn’t really a new idea, we have seen media outlets like The Onion, Daily Show and Weekly World News running rampant in the past few decades. Other forms of “fake news” are hoaxes or propoganda like the famous “Fiji Mermaid” or the “Disappearing Blonde Gene”. But what is troubling now is that fake news became a term coined for the sole purpose of discrediting information without readied analysis of whether it is true or not (thanks to CNN), now the term has completely backfired which led to the extremes of not believing in anything at all and the die hard believers. But is this fake news really that disastrous? I don’t think so.
Based on the essay by Murray Rothbard in his Ethics of Liberty, he has suggested that knowledge itself is a private property, thus whether or not the knowledge is true or false, a person has the right to disseminate it. This goes beyond the argument of free speech in which “fake speech” should also be protected and it does not violate privacy since the knowledge is created by the person holding it. What would be good about allowing lies and slanders to exist? There are 3 benefits for this basic human right:
- Everyone becomes skeptical- What this means is that people are not so ready believe in anything, just because the statue prohibited fraud doesn’t mean people will really stop lying. If anyone may lie under the law, people would need to actually investigate information before readily accepting them.
- Blackmailing no longer works- Blackmailing relies on witholding truthful information about something for a price, if everyone is allowed to lie, A can easily create another counter information which B is trying to blackmail A for, thus C would need to figure out whether A or B is lying. This is the most effective way of stopping blackmails.
- Freedom of Speech- Freedom of speech means there is no limit to what one may say unless it is an immediate threat, that means one has the right to use blasphemy, offensive language and lies at their own discretion. Removing incentives means people are not encouraged to do so like some forbidden fruit.
The fact we readily believe in people have its consequences. False accusation of rape is probably the worst of the results, for instance Jay Cheshire was falsely accused of rape, although the allegation was dropped by the defendant, he ended up committeeing suicide. This is not an isolated case, Donald Robinson, Brian Banks, Victim 1, etc. If we haven’t learnt from To Kill A Mockingbird, then I don’t know what the American education system is doing.
There are also false accusation of vandals and assault, these are more prevalent after Donald Trump became the President of the United States. Here are a few examples (Remember Taqiyya?):
- Moslema lied about being assaulted by Trump supporters.
- Moslema 2 held by knife point by “racist”.
- Moslem burned own mosque.
- Moslem 2 vandalized own property.
- Man vandalized cars.
- Ex Moslema forced to lie about being assaulted by “racists”.
- Woman lied about being assaulted.
Lastly, there is also a phenomenon called Woozle effect in which repeated exposure of a false information becomes a widely believed misconception. This primarily occurs in academia (e.g. 1/4 women are raped) , but the evidence is clearer when we see articles citing the same sources over and over again and when the source is checked, it is cited by another source and so on. The fact is, no matter how hard we try to stop fake news, it cannot be stopped. Fake news helped to alevate the situation to the public scrutiny and bring attention to information previously ignored such as The List of Grenade Attacks in Sweden. After all, you can’t go wrong with free speech.