As shown by ongoing debates on problems such as disinformation, fake news and deepfakes, deception is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed to ensure that the transformations brought about by digital technologies remain sustainable and productive. Yet the relationship between deception and digital media remains largely undertheorized. This talk proposes a new conceptual framework for the study of such relationship. Simone Natale argues that, somehow paradoxically, in order to understand the problem of deception in the digital age we need to reconcile with deception, acknowledging not just its risks but also its potential for enhancing engagement with communication media. Moving from previous work on deception and AI (Natale, 2021), I propose to apply the concept of “banal deception” to describe mechanisms and practices that are embedded in media technologies and contribute to their integration into everyday experience. Understanding how media facilitate mechanisms of banal deception is crucial to improve our capacity to comprehend and counteract the more overt and problematic manipulatory practices.
Simone Natale is Associate Professor at the University of Turin, Italy and presently is a Research Fellow at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin and at ZeMKI thanks to the support of the Humboldt Foundation. He is the author of two monographs, more recently Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test (Oxford University Press, 2021), as well as articles published in journals includingNew Media and Society,Communication Theory, theJournal of Communication,Media, Culture & SocietyandConvergence. His research has been funded by international institutions including the Humboldt Foundation, AHRC and ESRC. Since 2019, he is Assistant Editor of Media, Culture & Society.