The Performativity of Faking (and Fakes) on Social Media

Keynote speech by Guobin Yang, Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology, Annenberg School for Communication & Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania.


Faking is performative. It grabs attention through techniques of dramatization. To understand why fake news, disinformation, and related faking behaviour have become a social media crisis, it is important to understand its logic of performativity. This talk examines this logic through an analysis of the politics and poetics of performativity on social media platforms in China and the US. Such an analysis has implications for understanding how to respond to today’s fake news crisis.

The event is funded by the DFF-networking project “Ruling through Division: Categorizing People and Resources in Contemporary China


Guobin Yang is the Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology at the Annenberg School for Communication and Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the Center on Digital Culture and Society and Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China. He is the author of The Wuhan Lockdown (2022), The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China (2016), and The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (2009). His current work focuses on social media, narratives, and emotions in everyday activism, digital culture, and pandemic storytelling.


Sign up for the event

Deadline for registration is 1 May.