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To Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth: Truth Seeking and Truth Telling in Law (and Other Arenas)

October 2022

From the Annual Review of Law and Social Science:

This article reviews the fate of truth and falsehood outside of the courtroom, largely—but not exclusively—in the United States. Describing opportunities and techniques to mislead or deceive on and off the Internet and social media, it focuses on the evolving social control response undertaken by institutions and increasingly by distributed networks: government regulators, private actors, self-regulators, crowds, third parties, platform architecture, and technology. The review highlights the turbulent legal and regulatory challenges encountered as existing rules do not quite fit the virtual world, free speech protections tie the hands of legislators and regulators in some parts of the world, and massive private corporations—whose profitability is maximized by user engagement with inflammatory and often false messages—control much of what can and cannot be said. Competing media, platforms, and regulators usher in a post-truth era with contested arbiters of truth and dire warnings of an epistemological crisis.