The Ethical Journalism Network defines and describes fake news and information disorder as:
“Fake news is information deliberately fabricated and published with the intention to deceive and mislead others into believing falsehoods or doubting verifiable facts.”
Much of the discourse on ‘fake news’ conflates three notions: mis-information, disinformation and mal-information. But it’s important to distinguish messages that are true from those that are false, and messages that are created, produced or distributed by “agents” who intend to do harm from those that are not:
- Dis-information. Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organization or country.
- Mis-information. Information that is false, but not created with the intention of causing harm.
- Mal-information. Information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, organization or country.
Fake News is not just information you disagree with, although we see it used in this context more and more.
Fake News is important to understand, recognize, and evaluate, because it can affect both your academic and personal life.
In your academic career, you may be required to use information from online magazines and websites. If you do end up finding and using online articles, you want to make sure you are checking the validity of the source before you use it in an assignment.
Using Fake News articles in your assignment could damage your academic credibility, and your instructor might doubt your ability to effectively understand the difference between legitimate and illegitimate news or information. Recognizing Fake News, and more generally recognizing when a piece of information is trying to trick or confuse or sway your opinion is an important skill to gain, as an academic but also as a digital citizen.
Look to our tips on "How to Spot Fake News" for more information on recognizing and dealing with Fake News.