Fake news and the limits of freedom of speech

Kay Mathiesen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


In this chapter, the author considers the ethical acceptability of censoring fake news. Fake news has a number of harmful effects. It deceives people into believing falsehoods, sometimes systematically distorting people’s worldviews. It leaves many sceptical of news sources in general, lessening people’s ability to acquire accurate information. Fake news in a digital environment is just not the same thing as “made-up stories” in a non-digital environment. The essential feature of fake news is that it misleads about its origin. The fake news purveyors who seek a particular political advantage through getting people to believe their stories may intend people to believe their stories. Fake news is speech, and restrictions on speech are typically thought to require a much stronger justification than many other sorts of restrictions, because, as F. Schauer puts it, “Speech is special”. Speech is both a means for developing the capacity for autonomy and a way to exercise it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedia Ethics, Free Speech, and the Requirements of Democracy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781351333450
ISBN (Print)9781138571921
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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