What The Heck Is

What the heck is…. fake news?

By Kitty Knowles 16 November 2016
Summary

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: What's fake news and what does it mean for you?

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… sheds light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From Hygge to helicopter money, we’re on a mission to explain the unexplained.

The subject we’re untangling this week? Fake news.

What is fake news?

Fake news isn’t just something that’s factually incorrect. It’s a genre of publishing in its own right (albeit a pretty awful one).

  • It doesn’t include humourous satire websites like The Onion et al.
  • It doesn’t include clickbait websites that simply aim to pull you in with misleading titles.
  • It doesn’t include the stories where a genuine news outlets makes a journalistic error.

Fake news is peddled by outlets that deliberately create factually incorrect stories (or even memes) to promote their own agenda.

Why is fake news big right now?

The prolificacy of fake news has spiralled as social media has grown. But this week, Google – and then Facebook – took a stand by promising to block it from their platforms.

Their pledges follow Donald Trump’s success in the US election, which has been buoyed by an abundance of fake news stories.

In Britain, Brexit also saw a surge in factually incorrect propaganda dressed up as news.

Read more: 5 of Facebook’s worst fake news stories this year

Why should you care about fake news?

  1. Because it’s inherently wrong for false stories to be circulated as fact. These don’t act to educate or inform, and instead play on fear and prejudice to rile up hate.
  2. Some believe fake news can even affect voting results.

Whatever you believe – between unsolicited updates, cat memes and baby photos – there’s enough rubbish on social media already.

Let’s keep our news free and true – that means keeping fake news off Facebook.

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.