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Beyond Post-Communication

Challenging Disinformation, Deception, and Manipulation

Jim Macnamara

While many analyses have examined disinformation in recent election campaigns, misuse of ‘big data’ such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and manipulation by bots and algorithms, most have blamed a few bad actors. This incisive analysis presents evidence of deeper and broader corruption of the public sphere, which the author refers to as post-communication. With extensive evidence, Jim Macnamara argues that we are all responsible for the slide towards a post-truth society. This analysis looks beyond high profile individuals such as Donald Trump, Russian trolls, and even ‘Big Tech’ to argue that the professionalized communication industries of advertising, PR, political and government communication, and journalism, driven by clickbait and aided by a lack of critical media literacy, have systematically contributed to disinformation, deception, and manipulation. When combined with powerful new communication technologies, artificial intelligence, and lack of regulation, this has led to a ‘perfect data storm’. Accordingly, Macnamara proposes that there is no single solution. Rather, he identifies a range of strategies for communication professionals, industry associations, media organizations and platforms, educators, legislators, regulators, and citizens to challenge post-communication and post-truth.

“In Beyond Post-Communication, Jim Macnamara skilfully dissects the critical role that communication plays in the maintenance of trust, as well as the extent to which it has been abused in an era of spin, fake news, weaponized social media, and post-truth. With the skilled eye of an experienced practitioner, Macnamara not only lays out the problems, but also outlines solutions, from ethical practice and social responsibility to regulation and media activism.” —Professor Terry Flew, Queensland University of Technology; President, International Communication Association (2019–2020)

“Jim Macnamara provides a detailed overview of the complex factors that play into a ‘post-communication’ world. He delivers a comprehensive picture of the scale of the difficulties we face. In response to these challenges, he offers a programme of strategies that all those involved in public communication can engage with and a positive contribution to debate about contemporary public communication that will be of value to scholars and practitioners alike.” —Lee Edwards, Associate Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science