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Fascism, Fake News, and the Nature of Social Extremophilia

 

The TORCH Crisis, Extremes, and Apocalypse network hosted a talk on 'Fascism, Fake News, and the Nature of Social Extremophilia' with Luciano Floridi (Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, University of Oxford). Fascism is like an animal that lives at the edge of social environments. The harsher the conditions the more it becomes the only organism fit to survive. The difference, in this analogy, is that Fascism is like an extremophile that is also able to generate the toxic conditions under which it can live, thus becoming the fittest in such an environment. In the infosphere, this means polluting the environment with lies, propaganda, doubts, imprecisions, exaggerations, half-truths, improper contents, and any semantic pollution that can be generated. So the point to clarify is that Fascism is not supported by fakes news – e.g. it is not supposed to convince voters of alternative truths – but flourishes thanks to the damage that fake news cause. And the question to be addressed is therefore: given that any increase in the debate is an increase in the toxic conditions favourable to social extremophilia, how can a healthy environment be restored and maintained so that society can prevent Fascism and other forms of extremism from becoming the dominating species? These are the two points I shall discuss in the presentation.