Free Minds & Free Markets

Owen Wilson Got Fat! And More Fake News That Shouldn’t Be Regulated: New at Reason

We headed to the Venice Beach boardwalk to test the bullshit detectors of passersby.

Since the 2016 election, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, under pressure from Congress, have moved to block or deprioritize media sources that spread "fake news." France is considering legislation that would give judges the ability to block the publication of information they deem inaccurate in the lead up to an election.

Most Americans don't want the government regulating social media. A Pew Research Center survey found that a majority of respondents favored free speech even if it meant tolerating the spread of false information. A majority also said that big tech firms should do more to restrict the spread of false information.

Reason's Justin Monticello and Zach Weissmueller headed to the Venice Beach boardwalk to conduct a bullshit detector test on passersby. How easily could they distinguish inaccurate headlines from the accurate ones? Which is "BREAKING: Hillary Clinton Killed During FBI Raid"? Which is "Trump asks Japan to build cars in the U.S. It already does"?

With a fractured media, and when sources like CNN and Politico publish misleading or exaggerated statements, what's a responsible news consumer to do? Are "echo chambers" a problem, and how do we avoid them? And why do younger Americans in particular distrust the government and tech companies to regulate the flow of information?

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