Alex Jones’ $49.3-million verdict and the future of misinformation

LA Times

Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, questions Alex Jones Wednesday during the Sandy Hook defamation trial in Austin, Texas.(Briana Sanchez / Associated Press)

Alex Jones is facing a hefty price tag for his lies about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — $49.3 million in damages, and counting for claiming the nation’s deadliest school shooting was a hoax — a punishing salvo in a fledgling war on harmful misinformation.

But what does the verdict, the first of three Sandy Hook-related cases against Jones to be decided, mean for the larger misinformation ecosystem, a social media-fueled world of election denial, COVID-19 skepticism and other dubious claims that the Infowars conspiracy theorist helped build?

“I think a lot of people are thinking of this as sort of a blow against fake news, and it’s important to realize that libel law deals with a very particular kind of fake news,” said Eugene Volokh, a 1st Amendment professor at UCLA Law.

Publish : 2022-08-07 15:44:00

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