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According to established notions of authoritarianism, the withholding of information enables domination. By contrast, in the context of Syria’s uprising and autocratic retrenchment, it is information excess that gets exploited for political gain. The Syrian example also invites renewed exploration of the fragile relationship between truth and politics, a condition that applies not only to authoritarian circumstances but to the proliferation of “fake news” and “alternative truths” in the United States as well. Far from helping to establish “what really happened,” emerging information technologies—from the multiplication of distribution sites, to the ease with which digital photos can be doctored, to the speed with which “news” gets circulated and then superseded by the next catastrophe—have generated novel forms of uncertainty, even as competition among rival discourses leads to polarization. Both developments have consequences for the ability of revolutionary oppositions to sustain their movements and for the ability of citizens to make political judgments.

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