You are here:

Fake News from the Bubonic Plague to the “Lado Obscuro das Vacinas”

Speaker: Paulo Gerson Olinto Deodato

Disinformation is a much discussed topic these days, but that does not mean that the problem is restricted to the 21st century. At different times in history, the human being has had to deal with the problem that has always caused several conflicts. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been able to observe the challenges faced by journalists to combat misinformation, which has hindered the advancement of vaccination and the prevention of contamination. This article aims to compare the disinformation in the bubonic beast and Spanish flu pandemic, with the current Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the differential that technology offers to further promote this false content. For this, we did a bibliographic research based on studies that discussed this theme, and we did a content analysis based on the studies of Bardin (2009), in a Brazilian anti-vaccine group on Facebook called: “O Lado Obscuro das Vacinas (The dark sides of vaccines)”. The research showed that many rumors that were already circulating in other pandemics, are repeated in the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, new technologies have also proved to be an amplifying factor of these false contents. To achieve the objectives proposed by this research and build the theoretical foundation, we used authors such as Jenkins (2009) and Santos (2006). 

Fighting Against Disinformation: The Linguistic Features of Spanish Pseudo-Media

Speaker: Edurne Garde Eransus (University of Navarra)

This paper presents an analysis of the linguistic and discursive features of the false contents disseminated on three different Spanish pseudo-media. Pseudo-media are news outlets that mimic the appearance of legacy media while ignoring the most basic journalistic standards such as the search for the truth, objectivity, or verification of sources (Palau-Sampio, 2021). Specifically, we study the contents that have been verified as false by at least one reputable fact-checking company. These contents focus on immigration and represent immigrants as criminals. The aim is to describe the linguistic elements present in this false information, and to find out if there are linguistic-discursive strategies typical of fake news ─as other studies have pointed out (Rashkin et al., 2017; Alhabash et al., 2019; Carrasco-Farré, 2022; Grieve y Woodfield, 2023)─ so that these can be used in algorithmic systems to detect false information before it goes viral. From a methodological point of view, the study is based on a quantitative analysis using corpus linguistics tools (Baker, 2010; Izquierdo, 2018), which will allow us to identify the terms that predominate in the discourse, and which may be relevant in the linguistic construction of false information. With the data obtained in the quantitative study, a qualitative analysis will be carried out to describe the linguistic and discursive features of fake news.

F for Fake News 

Speaker: Marco Poloni (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Fake news is part of – and contributes to – an infrastructure of meaning. Therefore, to really grasp its relevance we must consider it as a speech act, judging its meaning within a given cultural ethos, not its level of factual truth. On the bigger picture, as multiple narratives are offered, we aren’t witnessing a proliferation of fake. A more serious fact emerges: we have come to a point where there is general disagreement on what’s true and what’s false. This isn’t a logical question. It’s a sociological one. The great rebellion against authority has finally reached its apex: there are no unanimous legit procedures of verification anymore. In an environment where direct verification is impossible at reasonable costs, a second degree of heuristics occurs. The more unsure the content of a piece of information is, the more our opinions on others are relevant to establish the quality of such content. We aren’t more gullible than before: as netizens we know that the web is a decontextualizing system (Ventura, 2018). We share the same spaces, but we don’t share the same cultural references. This is why a new emphasis must be given to epistemology of indirect knowledge of the world (Origgi, 2016). The rise of post truth is a revolution that destroyed the old media ecosystem: now we just have to deal with the crisis that this has provoked.

Paulo Gerson Olinto Deodato graduated in Journalism from the State University of Paraíba (UEPB), and Master in Journalism from the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB). His research focuses on disinformation on social media related to politics, pandemic and other relevant topics for society.

Edurne Garde Eransus is a pre-doctoral student at the University of Navarra, Spain. He graduated in Hispanic Philology and Journalism ─ Extraordinary Prize in both degrees ─ at the University of Navarra in May 2021. During his degree, he researched political discourse and populist discourse and obtained the Collaboration Grant from the Ministry of Education of the Government of Spain, which allowed him to continue studying populist political discourses and the right of access to public information in today's Spain. His current PhD research on the linguistic and discursive strategies of false information as part of the IBERIFIER (2020-EU-IA-0252) and Committed projects (2020-1-DE01-KA226-HE-005742).

Marco Poloni is a PhD student in Political Philosophy at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Following Baudrillard’s, Foucault’s and Bourdieu’s work, his research connects the shift from exchange value to symbolic value with a new kind of quest for status. He focuses on the new ideology – and the power – of consumption within a realist capitalist frame. His goal is to look for a viable way to synthesize the neoliberal ideology of individualization with the opposing communal modern conception of citoyen. 

Seminar Programme

25 May 2023
Wars, Whoppers and Carrots:  Fake News and its Opposite in the Early Modern Period

1 June 2023
Fake News and Censorship in Maria de Zayas’ Short Stories
"Open your ears […] when loud Rumour speaks?" (Henry IV, Part 2): Shakespeare’s ‘true wrongs’ and ‘false reports’

8 June 2023
Fake News from the Bubonic Plague to the “Lado Obscuro das Vacinas”
Fighting Against Disinformation: The Linguistic Features of Spanish Pseudo-Media
F for Fake News 

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 16:00 BST. You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register.