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American Culture Studies

Topics in AMCS: The Seductive Bargain: Fake News and the Controversies of the 2016 Election

American Culture Studies 330 - Spring 2020

The aftermath of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and election victory galvanized public attention on how commonplace digital technologies were used to promote agendas at odds with liberal democratic values. Proliferation of fake news, hate speech, missing emails, trolling activity, voting hacking, and the spectre of Russian interference eroded confidence in the security of market-dominant technologies and the stability of political institutions. Bad actors weaponizing seemingly benign social media technologies shook the tech industry and drew the ire of politicians. At the same time the public learned anew how the industry collected and capitalized user information for corporate profit. These realizations reignited debate about tech company accountability, platform security, free speech, privacy, and national security and cast these concerns as symptoms of a democracy under siege. In this class we'll investigate the cultural and political fallout of the nefarious subversion campaigns that defined the 2016 election, and center these activities in broader historical context, including the Facebook scandals of 2016 and 2017, the Edward Snowden leaks of 2012, the emergence of internet culture in the 1990s, and the protest movement against data aggregation of the 1960s. From this will emerge deeper understanding of the complex issues related to privacy, free speech, business practices, and national security, and frameworks for considering the ethical, legal, and moral implications of a culture deeply wedded to technologies of convenience.
Course Attributes: EN HBU HumAS HUMFA HUMAR HUM

Section 01

Topics in AMCS: The Seductive Bargain: Fake News and the Controversies of the 2016 Election
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