Fake news panel brings lively discussion and a crowd to Berkeley

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Is fake news undermining the truth? That question, hashed out by Berkeley and industry experts, drew a crowd that filled Banatao Auditorium’s seats and spilled into the aisles Thursday night.

The panel took on an issue that rose to play a hotly debated role in the 2016 presidential campaign and the election of Donald Trump, who was inaugurated today. Among the topics discussed: The incentives for spreading misinformation, disinformation, lies, fantasies and propaganda include great financial and political gain. Do tech companies and news sites have the ability and/or the responsibility to contain a flood of inaccuracy? Can they do that without bias or censorship?

Speaking were:

  • Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of news feed, who manages the team responsible for delivering relevant content to the 1.8 billion people using Facebook, and has recently focused on addressing fake news on the platform.
  • Craig Newmark, a web pioneer, speaker and philanthropist who recently donated $1 million to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies to promote verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism.
  • Laura Sydell, National Public Radio’s digital culture correspondent whose interview with the owner of Disinfomedia, a company with many faux news sites, aired in November.
  • Catherine Crump, professor and co-director of Berkeley Law’s Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, who specializes in First and Fourth Amendment and media issues.
  • Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, UC Berkeley’s university librarian and a professor at the School of Information, whose scholarly work focuses on the economics of the Internet, online behavior, and digital information creation and distribution.

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism Dean Edward Wasserman moderated. Read more on the J-School website.

View the discussion (UC Berkeley video by Stephen McNally)