“You Are Fake News”

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Fabio GIGLIETTO, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
Lella MAZZOLI, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
Francesca CARABINI, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
Giada MARINO, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
The problem of “fake news”, intended as an umbrella term that includes misinformation, disinformation, gaslighting and propaganda, prompted a broad debate about the role of information in contemporary society and the ability of online consumers to verify the veracity of news. To better understand this phenomenon in the Italian context, News-Italia observatory conducted a survey (June 2017) on a representative sample of adults citizens (N=1007). The study aims at measuring the level of trust toward the Italian news ecosystem and consequently the news consumers perception over the problem of “fake news” se well as the self-awareness of digital literacy skills.
The survey results point out that 53% of respondents often encountered partially false or entirely fabricated news online; furthermore, the “fake news” phenomenon is perceived as a relevant problem with more than 90% of online user declaring that the phenomenon contributes to sow confusion among follow citizens. On the other hand, the vast majority of respondents shows confidence in being able to recognize unreliable information and claims they do not share false news online, neither deliberately nor by mistake. Despite being aware of these issues, the majority of respondents tend to trust online sources more than legacy media.
On the backdrop of this complex and apparently contradictory picture - in which italians admit to encounter “fake news” but fail to recognize their role in the process - the paper adopts a second-order observation framework (Luhmann 2012, Von Foerster 1984) to make sense of the data and address its paradoxes. In doing so, it points out the eminently self-referential nature of the epistemological relationship between news consumers and information and the role played by the “informativeness of misinformation” in the persistence and reach of so called “fake news”.