Neglecting disinformation : A critical discourse analysis of how Swedish news media contribute to the meaning making of the Digital Services Act
Abstract: The concern about disinformation in the digital space has increased since the U.S Presidential Election and the British ‘Brexit’ Referendum in 2016. Many have argued for stricter regulatory frameworks for the Internet to uphold the public’s trust in democratic institutions. In December 2020, the European Commission officially published the proposal of the Digital Services Act (DSA), a new regulation partly designed to approach the dissemination of disinformation in the digital space. Considering the political significance of the DSA, this critical study is interested in the discursive role of media in the public’s meaning making of the legislation in particular and, to some extent, Internet regulations in general. Specifically, the study focuses on linguistic aspects in a selection of 14 Swedish news media texts from December 2020 to systematically draw out the ideological implications behind the related discourses, and ultimately whose interests are represented in the in the conception of the DSA in Sweden. Focus is also paid on how and to what extent disinformation is included or excluded in the media discourses. The analysis is conducted with critical discourse analysis as both methodology and theoretical framework, with a complementary ideological and sociopolitical perspective. The results reveal a widespread support for the DSA specifically or Internet regulations in general, advocating for stricter governance in the digital space to a certain degree. Additionally, the DSA is constructed as a means to tackle the dominating role of large digital service providers in the digital market, establishing an economic outlook of the DSA. Consequently, disinformation is neglected in the media discourses and its political significance is therefore diminished.
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