Fake news as an endless game of epistemic whack-a-mole

This is the memorable phrase which James Williams uses on pg 114 of Stand Out of Our Light to describe proposals that platforms find technical solutions to the problem of ‘fake news’. It punchily conveys the ironic predicament that treating problems of ‘fakeness’ technically, as engineering challenges to be addressed by better calibrating information flow, kicks the can down the road. The only way to do this is to infer standards of reliability from user behaviour when it is the inability of those users to generate binding standards which generates the problem in the first place. Finding technical solutions to ‘fake news’ inevitably operationalises ‘fakeness’ in precisely the consensual terms that prophets of post-truth fulminate against. 

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