Can "Fake News" be used as a propaganda tool to strategically impact an elections outcome? Is it proven to change peoples mind regarding what they're voting for?

  • 7
    Trivially, anything can influence an election. As it is this seems to broad and/or opinion based to get anything other than closed. Yes, would be the short answer.
    – Jontia
    Mar 12 '19 at 12:53
  • 2
    The United States went to war over Fake News. Specifically, the Spanish American war was fought over news reports that the explosion on board the U.S.S. Maine was sabotage by Spanish agents. Although, not the only caus bellici, the sinking was used by journalists to solidified the American Public's resolve for war. While the actual cause of the explosion is still unknown, it's now believed that the cause was a coal fire that detonated the ship's magazine.
    – hszmv
    Mar 12 '19 at 13:55
  • Yes, fake news can be used to impact an election. The far right just stole an election in Brazil, mainly through fake news. But, first, what are fake news? My fake news may be your revealed truth, and conversely. Second, it depends on people being eager to accept the fake news as true, which in turn probably depends on their pre-judices. Third, because of that, fake news are probably more useful to unify and fortify "the base" than to convert the undecided (the increased enthusiasm of "the base" may then be useful to convert the undecided, perhaps). Mar 12 '19 at 14:38
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    Is there even a clear definition of "fake news" ? What distinguishes "fake news" from a lie or even libel ? So, let's try an experiment: Reformulate the OP question, "Can a lie impact an election ?". As to the second part of the OP question, we can only speculate.
    – BobE
    Mar 12 '19 at 16:16
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    According to a washingtonpost study (echoed by thehill and others), fake news exerted a substantial effect on the 2016 American presidential election. thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/…
    – John
    Mar 12 '19 at 18:18

Yes. Europe saw this before and during the two World Wars.[1] The nazi NSDAP party lead by Hitler won a democratic election in 1932 in Germany largely due to an extensive propaganda effort.

The trust in the usefulness of propaganda against a people as a tool leading up to the 2nd World War - mainly by spewing faults, hatred and blame on certain demographics such as Jews and disabled individuals in order to justify the coming war - lead to the Nazi party creating an entire propaganda ministry as part of government:

Once in power the Nazis took control of the means of communication by establishing the Reichministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda ('Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda') - or RMVP, under Dr Joseph Goebbels.[2]

Still, nowadays, the spread of propaganda or "fake news" is militarized. The latest example I could find is alleged Russian interference in the ongoing Ukrainian election through the spread of fake text messages to peoples phones: https://twitter.com/loogunda/status/1105623757119504384

  • If you look at the propaganda the NSDAP used, it was essentially telling a large number of citizens what they wanted to hear, not what actually was. That was helped by the limited media of that day - largely newspapers. Today, it's more a matter of 'choose your bias' in news sources, but the thought is essentially the same: people looking for what they want to hear, not what actually is, only we don't have severely depressed economic conditions to make people susceptible to propoganda. In the absence of desperate circumstances, one has to wonder why people make this choice today.
    – tj1000
    Mar 14 '19 at 8:56
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    @tj1000 Maybe the hypothesis of "desperate circumstances" being the cause, is not correct. Another explanation could be a strong human tendency to confirmation bias, regardless of circumstances.
    – Steeven
    Mar 14 '19 at 9:17

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