Fake News

Quandt, Thorsten; Frischlich, Lena; Boberg, Svenja; Schatto‐Eckrodt, Tim

“Fake news” is an expression that became popularized during the 2016 U.S. election. The rather inflationary use of the term since then has changed its meaning, making it an ambiguous and difficult concept. The term is currently used both as (a) a derogatory term denouncing media and journalism; and (b) an umbrella term for various forms of wrong, misguided, or fabricated information. Fake news in the latter sense is part of a larger spectrum ranging from unintentional misinformation (e.g., sloppy reporting) to intentional disinformation (e.g., propaganda). Examples include various discrepancies from factuality along several dimensions and aspects of the transmitted information, ranging from actual content features (including text, images, etc.) to meta-information (e.g., headlines, author information) to more contextual aspects (e.g., framing) whereby combinations are possible. As fake news is not a well-defined concept, and the current definition approaches are not unidimensional, different research groups strive for more precise terms to describe the phenomenon.