The Oxford English Dictionary's choice for 2016 word of the year was “post-truth”, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
The Macquarie Dictionary chose "fake news" as their word for 2016, defining it as “disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic” and “the incorrect information being passed along by social media".
There are four broad categories of fake news, according to media professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College.
CATEGORY 1: Fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits.
CATEGORY 2: Websites that may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information
CATEGORY 3: Websites which sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions
CATEGORY 4: Satire/comedy sites, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news
No single topic falls under a single category - for example, false or misleading medical news may be entirely fabricated (Category 1), may intentionally misinterpret facts or misrepresent data (Category 2), may be accurate or partially accurate but use an alarmist title to get your attention (Category 3) or may be a critique on modern medical practice (Category 4.) Some articles fall under more than one category. It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good.
So what? Why should you care about whether or not your news is real or fake?
Melissa Zimdars is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. When she saw her students referencing questionable sources, she created and shared a document with them of how to think about sources, as well as a list of misleading, satirical and fake sites.
Source: International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174
Video created by FactCheck.org
"But first, to our news report about fake news reports. They've been the centre of attention for the past week after some people claimed they might have had a huge effect on the US presidential election. Social media sites like Facebook say they're really hard to stop and despite many sites trying to clamp down on them, there is more around now than ever before."
Behind The News (ABC1); Time: 10:00; Broadcast Date: Tuesday, 29th November 2016; Duration: 4 min., 33 sec.