Title

Facebook's Alternative Facts

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Virginia Law Review Online

Publication Date

2-18-2019

Abstract

In this short essay, I argue that Facebook’s adoption of the alternative-facts frame potentially contributes to the divisiveness that has made social media misinformation a powerful digital tool. Facebook’s choice to present information as “facts” and “alternative facts” endorses a binary system in which all information can be divided between moral or tribal categories—“bad” versus “good” speech, as Sandberg put it in her testimony to Congress. As we will see, Facebook’s related-articles strategy adopts this binary construction, offering a both-sides News Feed that encourages users to view information as cleaving along natural moral or political divisions.

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