Post-Truth: Hegemony on Social Media and Implications for Sustainability Communication
Summary, in English
Contrary to what practice suggests, social media platforms may not be an appropriate forum for communicating with civil society about sustainability issues such as climate change. Misinformation campaigns are distorting the line between fact and falsity on social media platforms, and there has been a profound shift in the way that social media users consume and interact with information. These conditions have been popularly labeled as the post-truth era. Drawing from Neo-Marxian theory, we argue that post-truth can be explained as a new iteration of ideological struggle under capitalist hegemony. We substantiate this claim through a mixed methods investigation synthesizing corpus-assisted lexical analysis and critical discourse analysis to evaluate 900 user-generated comments taken from three articles on socioenvironmental topics published on Facebook by news organizations in the United States. The results showed that the nature of this struggle is tied explicitly to the role of science in society, where the legitimacy of science is caught in a tug-of-war of values between elitism on the one hand and a rejection of the establishment on the other. It follows that presenting truthful information in place of false information is an insufficient means of coping with post-truth. We conclude by problematizing the notion that Facebook is an adequate forum for public dialogue and advocate for a change in strategy from those wishing to communicate scientific information in the public sphere.