Real Talk About Fake News: Towards a Better Theory for Platform Governance

Syed, Nabiha
Yale Law Journal Forum

Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, “fake news” has dominated popular dialogue and is increasingly perceived as a unique threat to an informed democracy. Despite the common use of the term, it eludes common definition.1 One frequent refrain is that fake news—construed as propaganda, misinformation, or conspiracy theories—has always existed,2 and therefore requires no new consideration. In some ways this is true: tabloids have long hawked alien baby photos and Elvis sightings. When we agonize over the fake news phenomenon, though, we are not talking about these kinds of fabricated stories.