The contemporary interpretation of fake news typically refers to the practice of distorting, or in some cases outright falsifying, reports on current political news as a means of misleading an audience. There are multiple goals behind spreading fake news:
The word "fake" in the context of fake news is essentially a surrogate word for "lie," "lies," or lying." Labeling a report as fake news is an attempt to portray it as reporting deliberately false information, or, more simply, lies.
Reporting that presents details of a developing story that later turn out to be incorrect or inaccurate is not an attempt to present fake news. Rather it is the editorial process through which journalists check sources and confirm reports being on public display as the story unfolds. No one is attempting to mislead anyone by reporting on the story -- the story just changes to ensure accuracy as it develops. Fake news, by contrast, possesses a deliberate intent to mislead, by withholding facts, withholding details about facts, or outright making up false information. The "What is a lie" box under the What is truth? tab to the left offers further information.
Whether a report does indeed present deliberately falsified information, or whether it has some factual basis for presenting the content that it presents, is the crucial question. The Critical thinking about information tab to the left offers guidance on how you can make such an assessment.
Huffington Post: Where Does The Term ‘Fake News’ Come From? The 1890s, Apparently
Politico: The Long and Brutal History of Fake News
University of California, Santa Barbara: A Brief History of Fake News
By Ryan Holmes
To date, some of the best, grassroots responses to the tide of fake and misleading news have come from the library community. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions put together a handy “How To Spot Fake News” infographic, which has been translated into 37 languages and used around the world. Librarians at Indiana University East developed an interactive fake news website, complete with tips on fact-checking and a deconstruction of an article about “hollow earth.” In webinars and slide decks, librarians are fighting back against misinformation.
In the years ahead, it’s not hard to see the role of librarian evolving further. What’s needed — more than just a pamphlet or a set of guidelines — is a sustained, comprehensive effort to train a new generation in media and information literacy for the social media era. This isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s an urgent and ongoing need — something that should be integrated into primary- and secondary-school curriculums everywhere. And librarians — alongside encouraging and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders — can be at the forefront of this charge.