A recent bombshell of a book about the corporate capture of Alberta’s energy regulator sheds light on how private organizations and public institutions sometimes converge into powerful networks that disseminate misinformation. The peer-reviewed book elucidates the inner workings of this phenomenon by developing an approach to analyzing institutional influence and dysfunction that can be used by investigative journalists, scholars, and anyone else opposed to abuses of state and corporate power.
As we have seen in recent elections and in the present pandemic, misinformation can do real harm. But the Canadian government’s plan to consider legislation to criminalize the spreading of misinformation is the wrong response. Criminalization will not stop misinformation. In fact, it often draws more attention to it, as well as undermines civil liberties and human rights essential in a democratic society.