UCI Law Organizes International Conference on Fake News


IRVINE, Calif. – The UC Irvine School of Law, in partnership with ARTICLE 19; the premier human rights organization for freedom of expression, and Wilton Park; a prominent British conference center for international issues, convened human rights, media, technology and legal experts to discuss “fake news,” disinformation, and propaganda. The conference, held Feb. 15-17 at Wilton Park’s facility in the United Kingdom, addressed the challenges “fake news” poses as well as the risks of attempts to regulate it.

“Our goal was to bring together people studying issues such as disinformation, propaganda and so-called ‘fake news’ and try to understand the current phenomenon,” said David Kaye, UCI Law Clinical Professor and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

“We wanted to begin a conversation concerning what is ‘fake news,’” added Prof. Kaye, who initiated the conference. “Is it the same as propaganda and disinformation? Is it a product of the digital age or an old phenomenon? In addressing the problem of untruths, what might be the risks to other values, such as freedom of expression, dissent, and criticism?”

Christine Wendel (2L) and Allen Babajanian (2L), both members of UCI Law’s International Justice Clinic, also played a key role in helping organize the conference. As part of the meeting, they launched a project devoted to collecting and disseminating knowledge on the subject: www.freedex.org/fakenews.

The conference enabled participants to explore the history and rise of “fake news”; the role of digital technology in facilitating its spread; ideas about how technology companies, the media and civil society can address problems of untruths in public discourse; and the ways in which repressive governments use allegations of “false news” and “rumors” to suppress legitimate expression.

The partnering organizations prepared a summary of the proceedings, highlighting the key conclusions of the meeting and recommendations proposed by participants. Read the report: “#FakeNews: innocuous or intolerable?”