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A User's Guide to the Understanding of "Fake News"

What is Fake News?

It's a term we hear all the time, tossed around by politicians, journalists, and media critics, Donald Trump, Eric Schmidt, and the Washington Post. However, despite the widespread use of the term, the meaning of "Fake News" has changed over time.

Started in late 2016 as a reference to made-up stories, hoaxes, and Onion-style parodies, "Fake News" has since been adopted by Donald Trump and his supporters to describe any negative press. Those in many establishment news sources often use "Fake News" to refer to "exaggerated, hyper-partisan, and conspiratorial journalism."

Fake News is thus perhaps best understood as a rhetorical weapon in a multi-faceted Information War. This fight has many sides, from Trump-supporting Breitbart-style propaganda to liberal establishment journalism to the subversive narratives of Russian networks such as RT, Rutply, and Sputnik, alongside traditional forms of left-wing alternative media.



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