Echo chambers, fake news, and social epistemology

Jennifer Lackey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

A familiar criticism of Donald Trump is that, in watching only Fox News and similar news sources, he is creating a dangerous echo chamber for himself. Echo chambers are said to be responsible for a host of today’s problems, including the degradation of democracy. This diagnosis is fundamentally incorrect, and this chapter examines the two dominant explanations of the distinctively epistemic problem with echo chambers and shows that each is wanting. Echo chambers, by themselves, are not epistemically problematic. Echo chambers are characterized in purely structural terms, but what is needed to capture what is wrong with Trump’s exposure to only Fox News is content-sensitive. It is not that Trump is relying on a single source for news, but that he is relying on one that is unreliable. Finally, the chapter calls attention to the challenge of social media bots and the role of non-ideal social epistemology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Epistemology of Fake News
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages206-227
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780198863977
DOIs
StatePublished - May 20 2021

Keywords

  • Bots
  • Diversity
  • Echo chamber
  • Fake news
  • Lack of awareness
  • Lack of independence
  • Social epistemology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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