Fake news

Dr Jenny Davis is concerned about fake news, a term that has found its way into the public lexicon over the past 12 months.

In that time, the meaning of fake news has shifted and expanded.

Originally, the term described a troubling pattern of fabricated political stories spreading through networks on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and 4Chan.

Today fake news is applied to a broad range of news products including both fictive accounts and pieces of journalism that, though rooted in verifiable facts, ostensibly maintain a politically motivated angle.

To be sure, there is a substantial and meaningful difference between made-up stories presented in a journalistic style and empirically verifiable stories that contain subjective components, yet both have been stuck with the label of fake news.

It is in society’s best interest to rid itself of news that is fake.

Acquiring knowledge of social and political goings-on is essential for the maintenance of an informed public and crucial to the democratic process. Fake news muddies the information landscape, creating substantial barriers to meaningful civic participation.