False or misleading information presented as news / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Fake news is false or misleading information presented as news. Fake news often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue. Although false news has always been spread throughout history, the term "fake news" was first used in the 1890s when sensational reports in newspapers were common. Nevertheless, the term does not have a fixed definition and has been applied broadly to any type of false information. It's also been used by high-profile people to apply to any news unfavourable to them. Further, disinformation involves spreading false information with harmful intent and is sometimes generated and propagated by hostile foreign actors, particularly during elections. In some definitions, fake news includes satirical articles misinterpreted as genuine, and articles that employ sensationalist or clickbait headlines that are not supported in the text. Because of this diversity of types of false news, researchers are beginning to favour information disorder as a more neutral and informative term.
The prevalence of fake news has increased with the recent rise of social media, especially the Facebook News Feed, and this misinformation is gradually seeping into the mainstream media. Several factors have been implicated in the spread of fake news, such as political polarization, post-truth politics, motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and social media algorithms.
Fake news can reduce the impact of real news by competing with it. For example, a BuzzFeed News analysis found that the top fake news stories about the 2016 U.S. presidential election received more engagement on Facebook than top stories from major media outlets. It also particularly has the potential to undermine trust in serious media coverage. The term has at times been used to cast doubt upon credible news, and former U.S. president Donald Trump has been credited with popularizing the term by using it to describe any negative press coverage of himself. It has been increasingly criticized, due in part to Trump's misuse, with the British government deciding to avoid the term, as it is "poorly-defined" and "conflates a variety of false information, from genuine error through to foreign interference".
Multiple strategies for fighting fake news are currently being actively researched, for various types of fake news. Politicians in certain autocratic and democratic countries have demanded effective self-regulation and legally-enforced regulation in varying forms, of social media and web search engines.
On an individual scale, the ability to actively confront false narratives, as well as taking care when sharing information can reduce the prevalence of falsified information. However, it has been noted that this is vulnerable to the effects of confirmation bias, motivated reasoning and other cognitive biases that can seriously distort reasoning, particularly in dysfunctional and polarised societies. Inoculation theory has been proposed as a method to render individuals resistant to undesirable narratives. Because new misinformation pops up all the time, it is much better timewise to inoculate the population against accepting fake news in general (a process termed "prebunking"), instead of continually debunking the same repeated lies.