What is Fake News and does it matter?

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Fake news has recently been defined as “news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false” (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017: 213).

Fake news is a specific kind of journalism that deliberately spreads misinformation. Fake news can take on a variety of forms, including but not limited to news satire and news fabrication. Examples of fake news articles include “Pope endorses Trump as presidential candidate”.

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Bias and accuracy have more to do with people’s ideological predispositions than an increase in false content.

Perceptions of bias perhaps is influenced by what people see as the coming the “other side” of their own ideological spectrum. For example, Republicans were found to perceive much more bias on television and radio (77%) over independents (67%) and Democrats (44%).

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Fake news exists on a spectrum, and can be difficult to define.

Focus groups hosted in Europe and America found fake news to be associated with misinformation and fabricated news reports, but further represents a modern discontent with the media, news, and politicians.

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Fake news is on the rise, and is becoming more difficult to differentiate from real news due to social media.

Social media’s form with “thin slices of information viewed on phones or news feed windows” makes it difficult to judge whether snippets of news are accurate (Allcott & Gentzkow). An Ipsos survey conducted for Buzzfeed found that fake news headlines fool ~75% of American adults.

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News satire can be mistaken as real news and contributes to the idea that fake news is on the rise.

An evaluation of the satirical article “Nation Awaits Apology From Media That Pushed Fake News Story For Two Years” found that 16% of people found the article to be definitely true, and 36% thought it was “Probably true”, when it had no intention of misinforming the public.

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More people are coming into contact with instances of fake news online, and are more likely to share it.

One study estimates that Americans’ encountered between one and three stories from well-known publishers of fake news in the period preceding the 2016 elections. False information on Twitter is retweeted by more people at a faster rate accurate information (Lazer et al., 2018).

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4 in 10 (39%) of Americans feel confident in their ability to recognize fabricated news.

Pew Research found Americans to be confident in their ability to differentiate between fake and real news. 39% felt “very confident” and 45% felt “somewhat confident”. This suggests that people are aware of the existence of fake news and are able to distance themselves from it.

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The fight against misinformation needs a hero like you.

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The fight against misinformation needs a hero like you.

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