New internet myths: no truth in a postfactual world?

U.D. Reips, U. Matzat

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The year 2016 has seen an unprecedented series of political campaigns that made use of the Internet, especially social media. Consequently, the Internet is increasingly being seen as a channel for influencing opinions, and it is being blamed for allowing spin doctors and other shady elements lurking at campaign trails in doing so without the necessity of content being related to facts. "Post-truth" was named the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016, an adjective defined as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief" (Oxford Dictionary, 2016). Relatedly, language institutions in several other languages followed suit, e.g. "postfaktisch" was also elected word of the year for German. The history of making new technologies responsible for societal developments beyond their actual impact is not new: when books were first printed, the invention of trains was thought to blind people, make them go crazy or cause female passengers' "uteruses ... fly out of [their] bodies" (Rooney, 2011). Old TV seems to get a break on its couch these days, while a crowd of teenage Internet services is being blamed for shattering the world's windows. In the current editorial, we take a close look at these "new Internet myths".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Internet Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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