published on May 18, 2021
A Digital Picture to Hold Us Captive?
A Flusserian Interpretation of Misinformation Sharing on Social Media
In this article I investigate online misinformation from a media philosophy perspective. I, thus move away from the debate focused on the semantic content, concerned with what is true or not about misinformation. I argue rather that online misinformation is the effect of an informational climate promoted by user micro-behaviours such as liking, sharing, and posting. Misinformation online is explained as the effect of an informational environment saturated with and shaped by techno-images in which most users act automatically under the constant assault of stirred emotions, a state resembling what media philosopher Vilém Flusser has called techno-magical consciousness. I describe three ways in which images function on social media to induce this distinctive, uncritical mode of consciousness, and complement Flusser’s explanation with insights from the phenomenology of emotions.