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Media Misinformation, Viral Deception, and "Fake News"

Definitions

What is "fake news"? In the not-so-distant past, fake news was often used to describe satirical or parody news outlets, such as The Onion or The Daily Show. However, during the 2016 US presidential election "cycle there was an influx of misinformation from websites that, while looking official and credible, were fabricating stories and data to increase their page views. Unlike satire news sites like the Onion, these sites appear official and often even spoof well-known popular news outlets. The term 'fake news,' however, has become more complicated as it gets conflated with media bias and other criticisms of mainstream media. In early 2017, use of the term has become a way to discredit news sources that an individual disagrees with." (Tim Miller) I am using quotation marks around the phrase "fake news" since the meaning has changed recently and may do so more in the future.

Besides satirical news, there are some related terms to "fake news" defined below:

Clickbait

  • “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” (Merriam-Webster dictionary online)​
  •  "The shocking or teasing headlines of these stories trick you into clicking for more information -- which may or may not live up to what was promised." (CNN)
  • "[Clickbait] does not necessarily constitute fake news, as these types of headlines or accompanying posts can be technically factually true (not fabricated) but nevertheless misleading." (Mediamatters.org)

Misleading news or information

  •  "Misleading or out-of-context information does not on its own constitute fake news. This kind of information is not wholly fabricated, and it can exist within a news report that is based on actual events that occurred." (Mediamatters.org)
  •  "These are the hardest to debunk, because they often contain a kernel of truth: A fact, event or quote that has been taken out of context. Look for sensational headlines that aren't supported by the information in the article." (CNN)

Highly partisan news sites or social media accounts

  •  "designed to spread information presented through a highly partisan, biased lens. Hyperpartisan websites or Facebook pages may share a combination of fake news and partisan content (misleading stories, partisan memes and videos, et cetera) that is not considered fake news, but could still contain misleading or out-of-context information designed to confirm a particular ideological view." (Mediamatters.org)
  •  "A type of misleading news, this may be an interpretation of a real news event where the facts are manipulated to fit an agenda." (CNN)

Perception of fake news