ACE Seminar: Deception and Politics Online: A Philosophical Approach

Speaker: Vid Simoniti

Date/Time: 31-Jan-2019, 16:00 UTC




Online forms of communication have not spelled the end of truth in politics, but they do pose new challenges to the democratic process. Alternative facts, fake news, truthiness, echo chambers, clicktivism and Twitter-emotions are some of the buzzwords that command our attention today, but how can we think about these phenomena without becoming entangled in their hype? What concepts should we use to understand better the alleged new perils faced by democratic politics? Here I present some early thoughts on the concept of deception in online political discourse, taking anonymous alt-right visual production as my subject matter (e.g. Pepe the Frog memes, anti-immigrant video “With Open Gates”). These visual forms of expression play loose with the truth of what they show, with varying political agendas animating their production. I draw on relevant philosophical literature (e.g. H Frankfurt, J Stanley, J Baudrillard, WJT Mitchell, R Langton) to suggest a new form of deception is underway here, one that is distinct from more familiar categories of lies, bullshit and simulacra.


Vid Simoniti is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. He has published on the relationship between art and politics in a variety of venues, including on topics such as anti-racist art, artistic responses to genetic engineering and digital art. Before joining Liverpool in 2018, he was the inaugural Jeffrey Rubinoff Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College, the University of Cambridge, and he obtained his doctorate (D.Phil.) from Christ Church college, the University of Oxford.

This page was last modified on 27 Mar 2014.