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Fake news

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fake news – noun U

The issue of fake news on social media has been grabbing headlines, but how do these sites make money?

The hackers who planted fake news stories on Reuter’s website weren’t doing it for fun.

In a heated exchange between Newsnight's Evan Davis and an aide to President Trump, both the presenter and the BBC were accused of fake news.

Trump said it was his opinion that “many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media”.


There is a sense in which fake news has been with us for as long as information has been disseminated through mass media and indeed much longer; politicians have used propaganda to damage their opponents and boost their own support ever since people first engaged in politics. The term fake news was initially used about untrue stories designed to help one candidate in an election while damaging another, and spread through social media sites or by hacking the sites of bona fide news organizations.


As in other cases, however, the election of Donald Trump as US President has pushed the term to the forefront of public attention and discussion. It was the President-elect himself who in the course of his first press conference accused the mainstream media of producing fake news about him, and since then he and his staff have continued to make the same accusation on Twitter as well as in public appearances.


Although the lines can sometimes be blurry, fake news should be distinguished from satire, whose intention is to amuse rather than to mislead or deceive.



Fake news is a transparent compound consisting of the adjective fake and the noun news. The term has been around for some years, although it does not appear even once in the British National Corpus which was built in the early 1990s. Its use has spiked since the 2016 US Presidential election.


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