29 May 2018

Fake news – annoyance that should be tolerated or existential threat to democracy?


This seminar looks into one of the most thorny issues of recent years, the phenomenon of fake news. The term fake news has, in a short period of time become an internationally used expression and has crossed the language barrier to become a constant feature of political debate in many societies. It is often linked with the rise of populism, with an assumed role in recent seismic electoral shocks such ad the election of President Trump in the US and BREXIT in the UK. It is furthermore often described as a tool which unscrupulous powers (included states) can use to influence political discourse and even elections in a variety of countries. Given this, there are increasing calls for measures to be put into place to limit fake news and its potential negative effects in society. Such calls often focus on the role various forms of social media play in the dissemination of fake news.


This seminar aims to to take an objective look at the phenomenon. In doing so it will look at observed instances of fake news and evidence concerning its potential harmful effects (or lack thereof). It will also look at the various arguments for and against implementing measures to limit fake news, taking into account inter alia the potential for harmful effects on liberty of expression. Finally the seminar will look at some of the proposed measures for tackling fake news from a legal perspective (e.g. as recently proposed by the French President Macron). The aim will be to discern what forms of intervention may be possible given established legal norms and requirements (e.g. including the European Convention of Human Rights).


Time: 12:00 - 14:30 (lunch included)

Venue: U-Residence, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050, Brussel (Access also via Generaal Jacqueslaan 271, 1050 Brussels)

Registration: The event is free to attend but capacity is limited, so registration is required, see registration form below.

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Law Science Technology & Society (LSTS)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Pleinlaan 2 • 1050 Brussels




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