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Fake News: Background

Resources about fake news

Background about Fake News

To understand fake news, it helps to have some background information about it. The term "fake news" may be relatively new, but the concept is old. Fake news can be discussed in terms of the information cycle: from the internal idea to the way it is expressed and communicated to issues of access and internal processing.

Is fake news new?

cartoon of men running with fake news paperFake news is not a new phenomenon. Some caveman may have drawn a dozen bison killed by him to impress his cave mates when in actuality he killed one rabbit. With language comes truth and lies. News, then, reflects both possibilities. With each "new" mass media format -- be it the printing press, radio, television or the Internet -- has come fake news.




Why create fake news? Its information cycle

What is the information cycle of fake news?

  • Alcott and Gentzkow's article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Spring 2017) models fake news, explaining the market for fake news, and who produces it. The authors also discuss the dissemination, access, and response to fake news.
  • First Draft News breaks down the types of fake content, content creators' motivation, and how fake news is disseminated.


Why create fake news? To assert power and influence, to have fun, to make money. Here are some examples:


How is fake news disseminated?


What techniques are used to get people to read and believe fake news? See the section on advertising in the Media Literacy box


Where do people get their news?