The Instigator
victorviolin
Pro (for)
The Contender
Brutus.Miller
Con (against)

Should creating fake news (and marketing it as real news) be considered a crime?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/21/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 580 times Debate No: 98323
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

victorviolin

Pro

I'd like to discuss this topic that I find interesting in today's world- fake news. This has become a huge trend in today's world, where people make millions by creating sites that are designed to look and feel as though they are genuine news sites. However, does such an action provoke legal action?

I will argue on the side that yes, this action does provoke legal action if the fake site is designed with the clear intention to disinform while attempting to present itself as a genuine news source.

The debate will be organized as so:

Round 1: Acceptance of challenge

Round 2: Opening argument, no rebuttals

Round 3: Rebuttals

Round 4: Rebuttals (2) and conclusions
Brutus.Miller

Con

Kudos to a great and relevant debate idea! I will be arguing that individuals or groups that create and disseminate fake news as genuine, accurate news should not be liable or face legal consequences.
Debate Round No. 1
victorviolin

Pro

Thanks! I'm looking forward to a very interesting and thought provoking debate.

In a world of strong opinions and high tensions over many issues- especially political, a new trend of fake news has emerged. These doppelgangers are- at first glance- are almost identical to authentic news sources, yet the news they report is completely bogus. In a clearly satirical manner, these fake news stories would be completely harmless. However, their attempt to disguise themselves as genuine makes them a threat to the general public.

The most obvious reason why fake news is bad is that it misleads the public. In today's world, the most shocking and controversial news is what sells, and fake news publishers takes advantage of this and draws in millions of viewers just based on their promises alone. In addition, these publishers thrive on conflict. The 2016 US election was unarguably the most conflict riddled election in a very long time, and incidentally, was the first in which fake news became a real problem. The extremely strong beliefs of each side made even the most improbable news seem plausible in their eyes- people will see only what they want to see, and that creates truth forged from lies. It is becoming harder and harder to tell truth from lies, and when no one knows the difference, then the world falls apart.

Fake news has real consequences. Take, for example, "Pizzagate", the conspiracy theory surrounding Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, claiming that they ran a child sex ring in a pizzeria located in Washington. This amalgamation of blatant lies and complete speculation based on limited facts has caused chaos all over the internet, angering anti-Hillary supporters who wholeheartedly believed the story. But that was not the worst of it- a man carrying an assault rifle stormed the pizzeria in order to "investigate" the claims. No one was hurt, but this incident shows an extreme example of the strong effects that fake news can have on the world. Obviously, not all fake news has consequences so extreme, but in the few cases that they do, the results are devastating.

As of now, fake news sources are prospering on cheap and easy money. A teen was able to make $60,000 within six months in his one man endeavor purely by making bogus ant-Hillary news. By allowing the continuation of such endeavors without punishment, the US and the world encourages these publishers to continue to gain easy profit without risk of punishment, while the world suffers the consequences.

Fake news is a disease, feeding on chaos and breeding more of it. When people are fed these lies, they believe even more strongly in their views until finally, they become fearful of opposing views. This fear fuels hatred, riots, and protests based on false claims, endangering the world as we know it for no good reason.
Brutus.Miller

Con

The world is indeed consumed by this strange and evil phenomenon that has come to be known by the oxymoron of "fake news." It's negative influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in particular, has been widely publicized and documented. I am in complete agreement that this method of spreading "news" is harmful to the state of political discourse in an already polarized America as well as the psychology of the world-at-large. My contention in this debate is not that this phenomenon is in any way beneficial to society or that it's perpetrators are ethical.

I intend to argue that this tactic of disseminating false and outrageous news reports solely for the purpose of gaining circulation or profiteering off of it is neither something new nor unlawful. Over a century ago, sensationalists such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer commandeered newspapers that put out consistently false, scandalous material. Their disdainful contemporaries would come to refer to this kind of reporting as "Yellow Journalism", however it is exactly the same principle applied by profit-hungry organizations and individuals today.

Modern examples of this salacious style of "news" include the National Enquirer, the National Examiner, and click-bait articles online. The prevalence of this kind of tabloid coverage has certainly increased exponentially through the advent of the Internet and social media, but it is nothing new. In fact, it is a legal right.

The ability to write, say, or print whatever one desires is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, so long as it does not constitute libel or slander, which should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I do not deny that this freedom is often abused and exercised by people whose only intent is to gain money or notoriety at the expense of the truth. However, the responsibility for filtering what we believe, what we claim, and what we spread, lies entirely with the judgement of each citizen of the state. Fake news is not responsible for a deranged psychopath brandishing an assault rifle in a pizzeria. Fake news does not inhibit our capacity for civil discourse. Fake news has no power over people except that which they are willing to give up in believing it. Those who choose to believe these obscure, falsified news articles without exercising sound judgement, fact-checking, or cross-referencing them are the ones who are legally liable.

Again, I intend only to the debate the legality of fake news and its protection under the First Amendment. I'll end with the cliched quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall: "I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by SupGumdrop 1 year ago
SupGumdrop
This is quite an interesting topic! I will keep tabs on this debate to see where it ends up. Congratulations on an interesting topic.
Posted by SupGumdrop 1 year ago
SupGumdrop
This is quite an interesting topic! I will keep tabs on this debate to see where it ends up. Congratulations on an interesting topic.
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