Philip Bump

How Subjective Media Replaced Institutions

Misinformation isn’t a result of social media. Social media is the accelerant that created chaos in the wake of a collapse in institutional confidence.

President Trump is the highest-profile spreader of misinformation, but he embraced and stoked misinformation and misinformation systems that already existed, rather than creating the problem.

In part, this is a function of the decline in authority. Once upon a time, people’s understanding of the world was more carefully bounded by news outlets and political leaders. The collapse in trust in those institutions coupled with a social media sphere where you can always find someone who agrees with you has led to the growth of misinformation broadly – but, more problematically, an actual marketplace for falsehoods in the media and in politics.

Philip Bump is a national correspondent for The Washington Post focused on the numbers behind politics. Prior to The Post, he covered politics for the Atlantic Wire.

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