What is the definition of “fake news”?
It’s hard to decide what constitutes “fake news.” The term is a catch-all expression that encompasses everything — therefore, confusing. For instance, all of the following could be called “fake” in our daily conversation.
You may think it is easy to distinguish one type of misinformation from another because categorizations like the above are rather clear-cut, but in reality, news reports often consist of a combination of many different information types.
A legit news report, for example, can be quoting a politician who has lied to the journalist. A fabricated story about a news event or a conspiracy theory could also contain full of verifiable facts in it. Sponsored content does not mean it is all misleading or exaggeration.
So, today, let’s play a little game with AJ:
There is nothing new about fraudulent news stories, bogus claims, made-up “facts,” malicious disinformation, political propaganda, attacks on journalists, and other efforts to manipulate the information space to influence people’s beliefs and opinions. Human history is full of such efforts all over the world.
Grouping them all under the name of “fake news” muddles the issues and confuses us. In non-English speaking countries, it could be even more problematic because people interpret the English expression in their own languages in their own cultural and political context, which further obfuscates the nuances.
What we should do, instead, is try to identify the specific types and highlight the associated problems when we come across questionable information.
Students will be able to 1) spot problematic news stories by recognizing different types of misinformation, and 2) envisage associated issues surrounding the misinformation ecosystem from motivations to social impacts.
Information and misinformation are becoming more and more difficult to tell apart as many types of misinformation are masquerading as journalism. In this lesson, we would like our students to get into the complexities of the different types of misinformation.
|Motivation||Get people’s attention, clicks, …||To entertain/amuse people, …||…||…|
|Methods||Emotional language, exaggeration, …||Mockery, jokes, …||…||…|
|Practitioners||Tabloid papers, entertainment news sites, such as …||Comedians, cartoonists, such as …||…||…|
|Impact||Unverified facts can be shared widely, some audiences react emotionally, …||Facts are mixed with made-up information, some audiences develop opinions before knowing all facts, …||…||…|