“Fake News” as Infrastructural Uncanny

Jonathan Gray*, Liliana Bounegru, Tommaso Venturini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
220 Downloads (Pure)


In this article, we examine how the social disturbance precipitated by ‘fake news’ can be viewed as a kind of infrastructural uncanny. We suggest that the threat of problematic and viral junk news can raise existential questions about the routine circulation, engagement and monetisation of content through the Web and social media. Prompted by the unsettling effects associated with the ‘fake news’ scandal, we propose methodological tactics for exploring (1) the link economy and the ranking of content, (2) the like economy and the metrification of engagement and (3) the tracker economy and the commodification of attention. Rather than focusing on the misleading content of junk news, such tactics surface the infrastructural conditions of their circulation, enabling public interventions and experiments to interrogate, challenge and change their role in reconfiguring relations between different aspects of social, cultural, economic and political life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-341
Number of pages25
JournalNew media & society
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Digital methods
  • fake news
  • infrastructure studies
  • Internet studies
  • like economy
  • link economy
  • platform studies
  • science and technology studies
  • sociology of quantification
  • uncanny studies


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