Fake news refers to false or misleading information which masquerades as legitimate news. Generally, fake news falls into two categories:
• Deliberately inaccurate stories – that is, the people publishing them know them to be false but publish them anyway. This might be to manipulate public opinion or to drive traffic to a specific website.
• Stories that contain elements of truth but are broadly inaccurate. This might be because the writer hasn’t checked all their facts or has exaggerated certain aspects to make a particular point.
Misinformation isn’t a new phenomenon – the term “fake news” was actually used in the 19th century – but the internet and social media have transformed how it’s created and spread. Pre-internet, people tended to receive their news from trusted media sources whose journalists were required to follow strict codes of practice. The internet enabled new ways to publish, share and consume news and information, with relatively little regulation or editorial standards. Many people now consume news from social media and other online sources – but it’s not always easy to determine which stories are credible and which are false.