Weaponized skepticism: An analysis of social media deception as applied political epistemology

In Elizabeth Edenburg & Michael Hannon (eds.), Political Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 31-48 (2021)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Since at least 2016, many have worried that social media enables authoritarians to meddle in democratic politics. The concern is that trolls and bots amplify deceptive content. In this chapter I argue that these tactics have a more insidious anti-democratic purpose. Lies implanted in democratic discourse by authoritarians are often intended to be caught. Their primary goal is not to successfully deceive, but rather to undermine the democratic value of testimony. In well-functioning democracies, our mutual reliance on testimony also generates a distinctively democratic value: decentralized testimonial networks evade control by the state or powerful actors. The deliberate exposure of deception in democratic testimonial networks undermines this value by implicating citizens in their own epistemic corruption, weakening the resilience of democratic society against authoritarian pressure. In this chapter I illustrate that danger through a close reading of recent Russian social media interference operations, showing both their epistemic underpinnings and their ongoing political threat.
Keywords
No keywords specified (fix it)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
RINWSA
Upload history
Archival date: 2022-03-10
View other versions
Added to PP
2022-03-10

Downloads
191 (#38,454)

6 months
153 (#3,423)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?