This article explores the strategic use of ‘fake news’ discourses in non-democratic contexts using a mixed-methods approach grounded in social network analysis and discourse theory. In contexts such as Russia and Iran, where the opposition generally does not have unrestricted access to the political public sphere, social media platforms serve to influence discourses. Given the prevalence of fake news discourses, previous studies have already focused extensively on the political elite and their use of this discourse within Western or Anglo-American contexts, and on the typologies of ‘fake news’. Our findings address this research gap and suggest that ordinary users in non-Western and non-democratic settings do not differentiate between ‘fake news’ types. Rather, they employ the discourse as a means to strategically delegitimise and discredit their opponents.