Tessa Murphy, assistant professor of history, is this year’s recipient of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Teaching and Research. The award will be presented at the Maxwell School’s virtual Graduate Convocation on Saturday, May 22. As this year’s Moynihan…
‘Impeachment and Deplatforming Aren’t Enough to Move Forward’
Whitney Phillips, assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, authored an op-ed for WIRED titled “Impeachment and Deplatforming Aren’t Enough to Move Forward.” Phillips is an expert on media literacy, mis- and disinformation and political communication.
Phillips writes that after the recent attacks on the U.S. Capitol, various organizations and leaders have questioned how to respond. The most common reaction, Phillips says, was to hold those in power at the top responsible through impeachment and bans on social media. However, Phillips argues that while these actions are appropriate, to best prevent another attack society must better understand and actively change the conditions that allowed the Capitol attacks to occur.
Phillips says that while certain leaders can be “uniquely destructive” within society, ultimately, they gain their energy from their surroundings and others. Additionally, Phillips writes that while modern-day leaders and social media have greatly amplified conspiratorial messaging, this sort of misinformation has always existed. Phillips new book, “You Are Here,” explains how misinformation of this nature originated “within far-right Evangelical circles, as well as the sophisticated media networks that helped spread them” and has only grown and morphed over time.
Ultimately, Phillips argues that the reason society is seeing such drastic levels of misinformation and extremism today is because “existing conspiracy theories provided narrative templates; existing far-right media networks provided favorable ecological conditions.” To fight this, Phillips says that people must talk with one another about the messaging they see online and in the media to better understand things.