This video is fake.

But some people will believe it. And that’s dangerous.

This fake video isn’t malicious. Rather, it was created to show how easy it is, using modern technology, to make fake look real and lies seem true. With this technology, you can make anyone appear to say anything, and use it to persuade credulous audiences. Imagine what Hitler and Goebbels could have done with this technology. (Read story here.)

There’s not an easy answer. You can’t have free speech and regulation of speech at the same time. Free speech is one of our principal safeguards against tyranny. But free speech includes the freedom to lie, and political lies create dysfunction, especially in a democracy where voters ultimately choose leaders and policies, and a public misled by disinformation can result in bad leaders and even dangerous behavior (see here and here for examples).

The best and obvious solution is an informed public. But in an era where respect for truth and facts is declining, people are encouraged to distrust reputable news media and listen to propaganda, and ignorance is rising and gaining sway over public affairs, that seems like an increasingly steep uphill climb. We already have internet debunkers such as Snopes, but my experience with them is that people who want to believe rightwing lies brush off Snopes and similar sites.

The internet is making unprecedent demands on our good judgment. Many of our fellow citizens (and sometimes ourselves) aren’t up to it. Still, do we really want to censor the internet, to keep poisonous disinformation (including that perpetrated by hostile foreigners) away from gullible eyes and ears? Somehow, that seems even more dangerous than the disinformation itself.



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