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Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news websites) are Internet websites that deliberately publish
fake news Fake news is false or misleading information presented as news News is information about current events. This may be provided through many different Media (communication), media: word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, ...

fake news
hoaxes A hoax is a falsehood deliberately fabricated to masquerade as the truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, rumor A rumour (British English), or rumor (American English; American and British English spelling diffe ...
,
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence an audience and further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a pa ...
, and
disinformation Disinformation is false or misleading information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The c ...
purporting to be
real news ''Real News'' – formerly known as ''Real News from The Blaze'' – was a news News is information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defin ...

real news
—often using
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
to drive
web traffic Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext File:Douglas Engelbart in 2008.jpg, Douglas Engel ...

web traffic
and amplify their effect. Unlike
news satire News satire is a type of parody A parody, also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satire, satiri ...
, fake news websites deliberately seek to be perceived as legitimate and taken at face value, often for financial or political gain. Such sites have promoted political falsehoods in India, Germany, Indonesia and the Philippines, Sweden, Mexico, Myanmar, and the United States. Many sites originate in, or are promoted by, Russia, North Macedonia, Romania, and the United States.


Overview of coverage

One pan-European newspaper, ''
The Local ''The Local'' is a multi-regional, European, English-language digital news publisher with local editions in Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), ...
'', described the proliferation of fake news as a form of
psychological warfare Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PsyOp), have been known by many other names or terms, including Military Information Support Operations (MISO is a traditional Japanese cuisine, Ja ...
. Some media analysts have seen it as a threat to democracy. In 2016, the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a resolution warning that the
Russian government The government of Russia exercises executive power in the Russian Federation Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries a ...
was using "pseudo-news agencies" and
Internet troll In internet slang Internet slang (also called Internet shorthand, cyber-slang, netspeak, digispeak or chatspeak) is a non-standard or unofficial form of language used by people on the Internet to communicate to one another. An example of Int ...
s as disinformation propaganda to weaken confidence in democratic values. In 2015, the
Swedish Security Service The Swedish Security Service ( sv, Säkerhetspolisen , abbreviated SÄPO, until 1989 '' Rikspolisstyrelsens säkerhetsavdelning'' abbreviated RPS/Säk) is a Swedish government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commissi ...
, Sweden's national security agency, issued a report concluding Russia was using fake news to inflame "splits in society" through the proliferation of propaganda. Sweden's
Ministry of DefenceMinistry of Defence or Ministry of Defense may refer to: * Ministry of defence, a type of government department responsible for matters of defence Current ministries * Ministry of Defense (Afghanistan) * Ministry of Defence (Albania) * Ministry ...
tasked its Civil Contingencies Agency with combating fake news from Russia. Fraudulent news affected politics in Indonesia and the Philippines, where there was simultaneously widespread usage of social media and limited resources to check the veracity of political claims. German Chancellor
Angela Merkel Angela Dorothea Merkel (; ; born 17 July 1954) is a German politician and scientist who served as the chancellor of Germany The chancellor of Germany, officially the federal chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Bundeskanz ...

Angela Merkel
warned of the societal impact of "fake sites, bots, trolls". Fraudulent articles spread through social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and several officials within the
U.S. Intelligence Community The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a group of separate United States government intelligence agencies and subordinate organizations, that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities to support the foreign po ...
said that Russia was engaged in spreading fake news.
Computer security Computer security, cybersecurity, or information technology security (IT security) is the protection of computer system A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out Sequence, sequences of arithmetic or logical operations ...
company
FireEye FireEye is a publicly traded cybersecurity company headquartered in Milpitas, California Milpitas () is a city in Santa Clara County, California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million resid ...

FireEye
concluded that Russia used social media to spread fake news stories as part of a
cyberwarfare Cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks against an enemy State (polity), state, causing comparable harm to actual warfare and/or disrupting the vital computer systems. There is significant debate among experts regarding the definition of c ...
campaign. Google and
Facebook Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service owned by Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, an ...

Facebook
banned fake sites from using
online advertising Online advertising, also known as online marketing, Internet advertising, digital advertising or web advertising, is a form of marketing Marketing is the process of intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and servi ...
. Facebook launched a partnership with fact-checking websites to flag fraudulent news and hoaxes; debunking organizations that joined the initiative included:
Snopes.com Snopes , formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking Fact-checking is a process that seeks to verify sometimes factual information, in order to promote the veracity and correctness of reporting. Fact-checking ca ...
,
FactCheck.org FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that describes itself as a "consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics". It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg Sch ...
, and
PolitiFact PolitiFact.com is an American Nonprofit organization, nonprofit project operated by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, with offices there and in Washington, D.C. It began in 2007 as a project of the ''Tampa Bay Times'' (then the ' ...
. U.S. President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
said a disregard for facts created a "dust cloud of nonsense".
Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service The Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service serves as the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also commonly known as MI6), which is part of the United Kingdom intelligence community. The Chief is appointed by the Secretary of State for F ...
(MI6) called fake news propaganda online dangerous for democratic nations.


Definition

''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'' has defined "fake news" on the internet as fictitious articles deliberately fabricated to deceive readers, generally with the goal of profiting through
clickbait Clickbait is a text or a thumbnail link that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typicall ...
.
PolitiFact PolitiFact.com is an American Nonprofit organization, nonprofit project operated by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, with offices there and in Washington, D.C. It began in 2007 as a project of the ''Tampa Bay Times'' (then the ' ...
has described fake news as fabricated content designed to fool readers and subsequently made viral through the Internet to crowds that increase its dissemination. Others have taken as constitutive the "systemic features inherent in the design of the sources and channels through which fake news proliferates", for example by playing to the audience's cognitive biases, heuristics, and partisan affiliation. Some fake news websites use
website spoofing Website spoofing is the act of creating a website, as a hoax, with the intention of misleading readers that the website has been created by a different person or organization. Normally, the spoof website will adopt the design of the target website ...
, structured to make visitors believe they are visiting trusted sources like
ABC News ABC News is the news News is information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making process. For example, a single customer’s sale at a restaurant is data ...
or
MSNBC MSNBC is an American news News is information about current events. This may be provided through many different Media (communication), media: word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, electronic communication, or through ...
. Fake news maintained a presence on the internet and in
tabloid journalism Tabloid journalism is a popular style of largely sensationalist In journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on current events based on facts and supported with proof or evidence. The word journalism applies to ...
in the years prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Before the election campaign involving
Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton ( Rodham; born October 26, 1947) is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker who served as the 67th United States secretary of state The United States secretary of state is an of ...

Hillary Clinton
and
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
, fake news had not impacted the election process and subsequent events to such a high degree. Subsequent to the 2016 election, the issue of fake news turned into a political weapon, with supporters of
left-wing politics Left-wing politics support social equality Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social in ...
saying that supporters of
right-wing politics Right-wing politics is generally defined by support of the view that certain social order The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structure In the social sciences, ...
spread false news, while the latter claimed that they were being "censored". Due to these back-and-forth complaints, the definition of fake news as used for such polemics has become more vague.


Pre-Internet history

Unethical journalistic practices existed in printed media for hundreds of years before the advent of the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
.
Yellow journalism Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of report Image:Hurt Report cover page.png, 220px, Example of a front page of a report A report is a document that prese ...
, reporting from a standard which is devoid of morals and professional ethics, was pervasive during the time period in history known as the
Gilded Age In United States history The history of the United States started with the arrival of Native Americans in North America around 15,000 BC. Numerous indigenous cultures formed, and many disappeared in the 1500s. The arrival of Christopher C ...
, and unethical journalists would engage in
fraud In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...

fraud
by fabricating stories, interviews, and made-up names for scholars. During the 1890s, the spread of this unethical news sparked violence and conflicts. Both
Joseph Pulitzer Joseph Pulitzer ( ; born József Pulitzer; ; April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...

Joseph Pulitzer
and
William Randolph Hearst William Randolph Hearst Sr. (; April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician known for developing the nation's largest newspaper chain and media company, . His flamboyant methods of influen ...

William Randolph Hearst
fomented yellow journalism in order to increase profits, which helped lead to misunderstandings which became partially responsible for the outset of the
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, S ...
in 1898. J.B. Montgomery-M’Govern wrote a column harshly critical of "fake news" in 1898, saying that what characterized "fake news" was sensationalism and "the publication of articles absolutely false, which tend to mislead an ignorant or unsuspecting public." A radio broadcast from Gleiwitz by German soldier Karl Homack, pretending to be a Polish invader who had captured the station, was taken at face value by other stations, in Germany and abroad, fueling
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
's declaration of war on Poland the next day. According to ''
USA Today ''USA Today'' (stylized in all uppercase) is an American daily middle-market newspaper A middle-market newspaper is a newspaper that caters to readers who like entertainment as well as the coverage of important news events. Middle-market sta ...
'', newspapers which have a history of commonly publishing fake news have included ''
Globe A globe is a spherical physical model, model of Earth, of some other astronomical object, celestial body, or of the celestial sphere. Globes serve purposes similar to maps, but unlike maps, they do not distort the surface that they portray except ...
'', ''
Weekly World News The ''Weekly World News'' was a tabloid which published mostly fictional "news" stories in the United States from 1979 to 2007, renowned for its outlandish cover stories often based on supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phen ...
'', and ''
The National Enquirer The ''National Enquirer'' is an American tabloid newspaper Tabloid may refer to: * Tabloid journalism, a type of journalism * Tabloid (newspaper format), a newspaper with compact page size ** Chinese tabloid * Tabloid (paper size), a North Ame ...
''.


Prominent sources

Prominent among fraudulent news sites include false
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence an audience and further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to encourage a pa ...
created by individuals in the countries of
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A sub ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...

Romania
, and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
.


Macedonia

Much of the fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential election season was traced to adolescents in
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
, specifically
Veles Veles may refer to: * Veles (god), Slavic deity * Veles Municipality, in North Macedonia * Veles, North Macedonia, a city, seat of the municipality, formerly called Titov Veles * Veles Bastion, Stribog Mountains on Brabant Island, Antarctica *Veles ...
. It is a town of 50,000 in the middle of the country, with high unemployment, where the average wage is $4,800. The income from fake news was characterized by ''NBC News'' as a
gold rush A gold rush or gold fever is a discovery of gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, ...

gold rush
. Adults supported this income, saying they were happy the youths were working. The mayor of Veles, Slavcho Chadiev, said he was not bothered by their actions, as they were not against Macedonian law and their finances were taxable. Chadiev said he was happy if deception from Veles influenced the results of the 2016 U.S. election in favor of Trump. ''
BuzzFeed News ''BuzzFeed News'' is an American news website An online newspaper is the online version of a newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often ...
'' and ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' separately investigated and found teenagers in Veles created over 100 sites spreading fake news stories supportive of
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
. The teenagers experimented with left slanted fake stories about
Bernie Sanders Bernard Sanders (born September8, 1941) is an American politician who has served as the Seniority in the United States Senate, junior United States Senate, United States senator from Vermont since 2007 and as U.S. Representative for the sta ...

Bernie Sanders
, but found that pro-Trump fictions were more popular. Prior to the 2016 election the teenagers gained revenues from fake
medical adviceMedical advice is the provision of a formal professional opinion regarding what a specific individual should or should not do to restore or preserve health. Typically, medical advice involves giving a diagnosis and/or medical prescription, prescribin ...
sites. One youth named Alex stated, in an August 2016 interview with ''The Guardian'', that this fraud would remain profitable regardless of who won the election. Alex explained he plagiarized material for articles by copying and pasting from other websites. This could net them thousands of dollars daily, but they averaged only a few thousand per month. The
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publ ...

Associated Press
(AP) interviewed an 18-year-old in Veles about his tactics. A
Google Analytics Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand. Google launched the service in November 2005 after acquiring Urchin (softwa ...

Google Analytics
analysis of his traffic showed more than 650,000 views in one week. He plagiarized pro-Trump stories from a
right-wing Right-wing politics is generally defined by support of the view that certain social order The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structures and institution Instit ...
site called ''The Political Insider''. He said he did not care about politics, and published fake news to gain money and experience. The AP used DomainTools to confirm the teenager was behind fake sites, and determined there were about 200 websites tracked to Veles focused on U.S. news, many of which mostly contained plagiarized legitimate news to create an appearance of credibility. ''
NBC News NBC News is the news division of the American broadcast television Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in color, ...
'' also interviewed an 18-year-old there. Dmitri (a pseudonym) was one of the most profitable fake news operators in town, and said about 300 people in Veles wrote for fake sites. Dmitri said he gained over $60,000 during the six months prior through doing this, more than both his parents' earnings. Dmitri said his main dupes were supporters of Trump. He said after the 2016 U.S. election he continued to earn significant amounts. The 2020 U.S. election is their next project.


Romania

"Ending the Fed", a popular purveyor of fraudulent reports, was run by a 24-year-old named Ovidiu Drobota out of
Oradea Oradea (, , ; german: Großwardein ; hu, Nagyvárad ) is a city in Romania, located in Crișana, a sub-region of Transylvania. county seat, Seat of the Bihor county, Oradea is one of the most important economic, social and cultural centers in the ...

Oradea
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...

Romania
, who boasted to ''
Inc. magazine ''Inc.'' is an American business media property founded in 1979 and based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a ...
'' about being more popular than
mainstream media Mainstream media (MSM) is a term and abbreviation used to refer collectively to the various large mass news media that influence many people, and both reflect and shape prevailing currents of thought.Chomsky, Noam, ''"What makes mainstream media ...
. Established in March 2016, "Ending the Fed" was responsible for a false story in August 2016 that incorrectly stated
Fox News The Fox News Channel, abbreviated FNC, commonly known as Fox News, and stylized in all caps In typography, all caps (short for "all capitalization, capitals") refers to text or a typeface, font in which all letters are capital letters, for ...
had fired journalist
Megyn Kelly Megyn Marie Kelly (; born November 18, 1970) is an American lawyer and journalist who was a talk show host at Fox News#REDIRECT Fox News {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from incorrect name {{R from other capitalisation ... from 2004 to 2017 ...
—the story was briefly prominent on Facebook on its "Trending News" section. "Ending the Fed" held four out of the 10 most popular fake articles on Facebook related to the 2016 U.S. election in the prior three months before the election itself. The Facebook page for the website, called "End the Feed", had 350,000 "likes" in November 2016. After being contacted by ''Inc. magazine'', Drobota stated he was proud of the impact he had on the 2016 U.S. election in favor of his preferred candidate Donald Trump. According to
Alexa Internet Alexa Internet, Inc. is an American web traffic Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a c ...
, "Ending the Fed" garnered approximately 3.4 million views over a 30-day-period in November 2016. Drobota stated the majority of incoming traffic is from Facebook. He said his normal line of work before starting "Ending the Fed" included
web development Web development is the work involved in developing a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references ...
and
search engine optimization Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext File:D ...
.


Russia


Internet Research Agency

Beginning in fall 2014, ''
The New Yorker ''The New Yorker'' is an American weekly magazine featuring journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of report Image:Hurt Report cover page.png, 220px, Example of a front page of a report A report is a document that pr ...

The New Yorker
'' writer Adrian Chen performed a six-month investigation into Russian propaganda dissemination online by the
Internet Research Agency The Internet Research Agency (''IRA''; russian: Агентство интернет-исследований translit: ''Agentstvo Internet-Issledovaniy''), also known as ''Glavset'' and known in Russian Internet slang Internet slang (also ca ...
(IRA).
Yevgeny Prigozhin Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin (russian: Евге́ний Ви́кторович Приго́жин; born 1 June 1961) is a Russian businessman with close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin#REDIRECT Vladimir Putin {{Redirect category shell, ...
(Evgeny Prigozhin), a close associate of
Vladimir Putin Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, (born 7 October 1952) is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer who is serving as the current president of Russia. He has been serving in this position since 2012, and he previously held this of ...

Vladimir Putin
, was behind the operation which hired hundreds of individuals to work in
Saint Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), ...

Saint Petersburg
. The organization became regarded as a "
troll farm A troll farm or troll factory is an institutionalised group of internet trolls that seeks to interfere in political opinions and decision-making. One study showed that 30 governments worldwide (out of 65 covered by the study) paid keyboard armies t ...
", a term used to refer to propaganda efforts controlling many accounts online with the aim of artificially providing a semblance of a
grassroots A grassroots movement is one that uses the people in a given district, region or community as the basis for a political or economic movement. Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to effect change at t ...

grassroots
organization. Chen reported that Internet trolling was used by the Russian government as a tactic largely after observing the social media organization of the 2011 protests against Putin.


European Union response

In 2015, the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (refer ...
released an analysis critical of disinformation campaigns by
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
masked as news. This was intended to interfere with
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
relations with
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
after the removal of former Ukraine president
Viktor Yanukovych Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych ( uk, Ві́ктор Фе́дорович Януко́вич, ; ; born 9 July 1950) is a Ukrainian politician who served as the fourth President of Ukraine from 2010 until he was removed from office in the 2014 Ukr ...

Viktor Yanukovych
. According to ''
Deutsche Welle Deutsche Welle (; "German Wave" in German) or DW is a German public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or ...

Deutsche Welle
'', similar tactics were used in the 2016 U.S. elections. The
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
created a taskforce to deal with Russian disinformation. The taskforce, East StratCom Team, had 11 people including Russian language, Russian speakers. In November 2016, the EU voted to increase the group's funding. In November 2016, the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a resolution warning of the use by Russia of tools including: "pseudo-news agencies ... social media and internet trolls" as disinformation to weaken democratic values. The resolution requested EU analysts investigate, explaining member nations needed to be wary of disinformation. The resolution condemned Russian sources for publicizing "absolutely fake" news reports. The tally on 23 November 2016 passed by a margin of 304 votes to 179.


United States

The United States Department of State, U.S. State Department planned to use a unit called the Counter-Disinformation Team, formed with the intention of combating
disinformation Disinformation is false or misleading information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The c ...
from the
Russian government The government of Russia exercises executive power in the Russian Federation Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries a ...
, and that it was disbanded in September 2015 after department heads missed the scope of propaganda before the 2016 United States presidential election, 2016 U.S. election. The U.S. State Department put eight months into developing the unit before scrapping it. It would have been a reboot of the Active Measures Working Group set up by Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Reagan Administration. The Counter-Disinformation Team was set up under the Bureau of International Information Programs. Work began in 2014, with the intention to combat propaganda from Russian sources such as the RT (TV network), RT network (formerly known as Russia Today). United States Intelligence Community, U.S. Intelligence officials explained to former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John R. Schindler that the Presidency of Barack Obama, Obama Administration decided to cancel the unit as they were afraid of antagonizing Russia. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel was point person for the unit before it was canceled. Stengel previously wrote about disinformation by RT.


Internet trolls shift focus to Trump

Adrian Chen observed a pattern in December 2015 where pro-Russian accounts became supportive of 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. Andrew Weisburd and Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow and senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, Clint Watts, wrote for ''The Daily Beast'' in August 2016 that Russian propaganda fabricated articles were popularized by social media. Weisburd and Watts documented how disinformation spread from Russia Today and Sputnik News, "the two biggest Russian state-controlled media organizations publishing in English", to pro-Russian accounts on Twitter. Citing research by Chen, Weisburd and Watts compared Russian tactics during the 2016 U.S. election to Soviet Union Cold War strategies. They referenced the 1992 United States Information Agency report to Congress, which warned about Russian propaganda called active measures. They concluded social media made active measures easier. Institute of International Relations Prague senior fellow and scholar on Russian intelligence, Mark Galeotti, agreed the Kremlin operations were a form of active measures. The most strident Internet promoters of Trump were not U.S. citizens but paid Russian propagandists. ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' estimated their number to be in the "low thousands" in November 2016. Weisburd and Watts collaborated with colleague J. M. Berger and published a follow-up to their ''Daily Beast'' article in online magazine ''War on the Rocks'', titled: "Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy". They researched 7,000 pro-Trump accounts over a -year period. Their research detailed Internet troll, trolling techniques to denigrate critics of Russian activities in Syria, and proliferate lies about Clinton's health. Watts said the propaganda targeted the alt-right, the right-wing politics, right wing, and fascism, fascist groups. After each presidential debate, thousands of Twitter bots used hashtag #Trumpwon to change perceptions. In November 2016 the Foreign Policy Research Institute stated Russian propaganda exacerbated criticism of Clinton and support for Trump. The strategy involved social media, paid
Internet troll In internet slang Internet slang (also called Internet shorthand, cyber-slang, netspeak, digispeak or chatspeak) is a non-standard or unofficial form of language used by people on the Internet to communicate to one another. An example of Int ...
s, botnets, and websites in order to denigrate Clinton.


U.S. intelligence analysis

Computer security, Computer security company
FireEye FireEye is a publicly traded cybersecurity company headquartered in Milpitas, California Milpitas () is a city in Santa Clara County, California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million resid ...

FireEye
concluded Russia used social media as a weapon to influence the U.S. election. FireEye Chairman David DeWalt said the 2016 operation was a new development in cyberwarfare by Russia. FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia stated Russian cyberwarfare changed after fall 2014, from covert to overt tactics with decreased operational security. Bellingcat analyst Aric Toler explained fact-checking only drew further attention to the fake news problem. United States Intelligence Community, U.S. Intelligence agencies debated why Putin chose summer 2016 to escalate active measures. Prior to the election, U.S. national security officials said they were anxious about Russia tampering with U.S. news. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said after the 2011–13 Russian protests, Putin lost self-confidence, and responded with the propaganda operation. Former Central Intelligence Agency, CIA officer Patrick Skinner said the goal was to spread uncertainty. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff commented on Putin's aims, and said U.S. intelligence were concerned with Russian propaganda. Speaking about disinformation that appeared in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland, Schiff said there was an increase of the same behavior in the U.S. U.S. intelligence officials stated in November 2016 they believed Russia engaged in spreading fake news, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI released a statement saying they were investigating. Two U.S. intelligence officials each told ''BuzzFeed News'' they "believe Russia helped disseminate fake and propagandized news as part of a broader effort to influence and undermine the presidential election". The U.S. intelligence sources stated this involved "dissemination of completely fake news stories". They told ''BuzzFeed'' the FBI investigation specifically focused on why "Russia had engaged in spreading false or misleading information".


By country

Fake news has influenced political discourse in multiple countries, including Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Sweden, China, Myanmar, and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
.


Austria

Politicians in Austria dealt with the impact of fake news and its spread on social media after the 2016 presidential campaign in the country. In December 2016, a court in Austria issued an injunction on Facebook Europe, mandating it block negative postings related to Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, Austrian Green Party Chairwoman. According to ''The Washington Post'' the postings to Facebook about her "appeared to have been spread via a fake profile" and directed derogatory epithets towards the Austrian politician. The derogatory postings were likely created by the identical fake profile that had previously been utilized to attack Alexander van der Bellen, who won the election for President of Austria.


Brazil

Brazil faced increasing influence from fake news after the 2014 Brazilian general election, 2014 re-election of President Dilma Rousseff and Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, Rousseff's subsequent impeachment in August 2016. In the week surrounding one of the impeachment votes, 3 out of the 5 most-shared articles on Facebook in Brazil were fake. In 2015, reporter Tai Nalon resigned from her position at Brazilian newspaper ''Folha de S.Paulo'' in order to start the first fact-checking website in Brazil, called Aos Fatos (To The Facts). Nalon told ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' there was a great deal of fake news, and hesitated to compare the problem to that experienced in the U.S.


Canada

Fake news online was brought to the attention of Canadian politicians in November 2016, as they debated helping assist local newspapers. Member of Parliament of Canada, Parliament for Vancouver Centre Hedy Fry specifically discussed fake news as an example of ways in which publishers on the Internet are less accountable than print media. Discussion in parliament contrasted increase of fake news online with downsizing of Canadian newspapers and the impact for democracy in Canada. Representatives from Facebook Canada attended the meeting and told members of Parliament they felt it was their duty to assist individuals gather data online.


China

Fake news during the 2016 U.S. election spread to China. Articles popularized within the United States were translated into Chinese and spread within China. The government of China used the growing problem of fake news as a rationale for increasing Internet censorship in China in November 2016. China then published an editorial in its Communist Party newspaper ''The Global Times'' called: "Western Media's Crusade Against Facebook", and criticized "unpredictable" political problems posed by freedoms enjoyed by users of Twitter, Google, and
Facebook Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service owned by Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, an ...

Facebook
. China government leaders meeting in Wuzhen at the third World Internet Conference in November 2016 said fake news in the U.S. election justified adding more curbs to free and open use of the Internet. China Deputy Minister Ren Xianliang, official at the Cyberspace Administration of China, said increasing online participation led to "harmful information" and fraud. Kam Chow Wong, a former Hong Kong law enforcement official and criminal justice professor at Xavier University, praised attempts in the U.S. to patrol social media. ''The Wall Street Journal'' noted China's themes of Internet censorship became more relevant at the World Internet Conference due to the outgrowth of fake news.


Finland

Officials from 11 countries held a meeting in Helsinki in November 2016, in order to plan the formation of a center to combat disinformation cyber-warfare including spread of fake news on social media. The center is planned to be located in Helsinki and include efforts from 10 countries with participation from Sweden, Germany, Finland, and the U.S. Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä planned to deal with the center in spring 2017 with a motion before the Parliament of Finland. Jori Arvonen, Deputy Secretary of State for EU Affairs, said cyberwarfare became an increased problem in 2016, and included hybrid cyber-warfare intrusions into Finland from Russia and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Arvonen cited examples including fake news online, disinformation, and the Little green men (Ukrainian crisis), little green men troops during the Ukrainian crisis.


France

France saw an uptick in amounts of disinformation and propaganda, primarily in the midst of election cycles. ''Le Monde'' fact-checking division "Les décodeurs" was headed by Samuel Laurent, who told ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' in December 2016 the upcoming French presidential election campaign in spring 2017 would face problems from fake news. The country faced controversy regarding fake websites providing false information about abortion. The government's lower parliamentary body moved forward with intentions to ban such fake sites. Laurence Rossignol, women's minister for France, informed parliament though the fake sites look neutral, in actuality their intentions were specifically targeted to give women fake information. During the 10-year period preceding 2016, France was witness to an increase in popularity of far-right alternative news sources called the ''fachosphere'' ("facho" referring to fascist); known as the . According to sociologist Antoine Bevort, citing data from
Alexa Internet Alexa Internet, Inc. is an American web traffic Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a c ...
rankings, the most consulted political websites in France included ''Égalité et Réconciliation'', ', and ''Les Moutons Enragés''. These sites increased skepticism towards
mainstream media Mainstream media (MSM) is a term and abbreviation used to refer collectively to the various large mass news media that influence many people, and both reflect and shape prevailing currents of thought.Chomsky, Noam, ''"What makes mainstream media ...
from both left and right perspectives.


Germany

Chancellor of Germany, German Chancellor
Angela Merkel Angela Dorothea Merkel (; ; born 17 July 1954) is a German politician and scientist who served as the chancellor of Germany The chancellor of Germany, officially the federal chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Bundeskanz ...

Angela Merkel
lamented the problem of fraudulent news reports in a November 2016 speech, days after announcing her campaign for a fourth term as leader of her country. In a speech to the German parliament, Merkel was critical of such fake sites, saying they harmed political discussion. Merkel called attention to the need of government to deal with
Internet troll In internet slang Internet slang (also called Internet shorthand, cyber-slang, netspeak, digispeak or chatspeak) is a non-standard or unofficial form of language used by people on the Internet to communicate to one another. An example of Int ...
s, bots, and fake news websites. She warned that such fraudulent news websites were a force increasing the power of populism, populist extremism. Merkel called fraudulent news a growing phenomenon that might need to be regulated in the future. Germany's foreign intelligence agency Federal Intelligence Service (Germany), Federal Intelligence Service Chief, , warned of the potential for cyberattacks by Russia in the 2017 German federal election, 2017 German election. He said the cyberattacks would take the form of the intentional spread of disinformation. Kahl said the goal is to increase chaos in political debates. Germany's domestic intelligence agency Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, said sabotage by Russian intelligence was a present threat to German information security.


India

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, thinks that "the problems of disinformation in a society like India might be more sophisticated and more challenging than they are in the West". The damage caused due to fake news on social media has increased due to the growth of the internet penetration in India, which has risen from 137 million internet users in 2012 to over 600 million in 2019. India is the largest market for WhatsApp, with over 230 million users, and as a result one of the main platforms on which fake news is spread. One of the main problems is of receivers believing anything sent to them over social media due to lack of awareness. Various initiatives and practices have been started and adopted to curb the spread and impact of fake news. Fake news is also spread through
Facebook Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service owned by Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, an ...

Facebook
, Whatsapp and Twitter. According to a report by ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'', the Indian media research agency CMS stated that the cause of spread of fake news was that India "lacked (a) media policy for verification". Additionally, law enforcement officers have arrested reporters and journalists for "creating fictitious articles", especially when the articles were controversial. In India, fake news has been spread by both the left and the right side of the political spectrum. A study published in ''ThePrint'' claimed that on Twitter, there were at least 17,000 accounts spreading fake news to favour the BJP, while around 147 accounts were spreading fake news to favour the Indian National Congress. Similarly, the IT Cell of the BJP has been accused of spreading fake news against the party's political opponents, religious minorities, and any campaigns against the party. The IT Cells of the BJP, Congress and other political parties have been accused of spreading fake news against the party's political opponents and any campaigns against the party. RSS mouthpiece Organiser (magazine), Organizer and Congress mouthpiece National Herald have also been accused of misleading reports. Prominent fake news-spreading websites and online resources include OpIndia, The Logical Indian and Postcard News. The Logical Indian, initially started in 2013 in support of current Delhi CM.


Indonesia and Philippines

Fraudulent news has been particularly problematic in Indonesia and the Philippines, where social media has an outsized political influence. According to media analysts, developing country, developing countries with new access to social media and democracy felt the fake news problem to a larger extent. In some developing countries, Facebook gives away smartphone data free of charge for Facebook and media sources, but at the same time does not provide the user with Internet access to fact-checking websites.


Iran

On 8 October 2020, Bloomberg reported that 92 websites used by Iran to spread misinformation were seized by the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
government.


Italy

Between 1 October and 30 November 2016, ahead of the 2016 Italian constitutional referendum, Italian constitutional referendum, five out of ten referendum-related stories with most social media participation were hoaxes or inaccurate. Of the three stories with the most social media attention, two were fake. Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi met with U.S. President Obama and leaders of Europe at a meeting in Berlin, Germany in November 2016, and spoke about the fake news problem. Renzi hosted discussions on Facebook Live in an effort to rebut falsities online. The influence became so heavy that a senior adviser to Renzi began a defamation complaint on an anonymous Twitter user who had used the screenname "Beatrice di Maio". The Five Star Movement (M5S), an Italian political party founded by Beppe Grillo, managed fake news sites amplifying support for Russian news, propaganda, and inflamed conspiracy theories. The party's site ''TzeTze'' had 1.2 million Facebook fans and shared fake news and pieces supportive of Putin cited to Russia-owned sources including ''Sputnik News''. ''TzeTze'' plagiarism, plagiarized the Russian sources, and copied article titles and content from ''Sputnik''. TzeTze, another site critical of Renzi called ''La Cosa'', and a blog by Grillo—were managed by the company Casaleggio Associati which was started by Five Star Movement co-founder Gianroberto Casaleggio. Casaleggio's son Davide Casaleggio owns and manages ''TzeTze'' and ''La Cosa'', and medical advice website ''La Fucina'' which markets Vaccine controversies, anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and Panacea (medicine), medical cure-all methods. Grillo's blog, Five Star Movement fake sites use the same IP addresses,
Google Analytics Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand. Google launched the service in November 2005 after acquiring Urchin (softwa ...

Google Analytics
and Google AdSense. Cyberwarfare against Renzi increased, and Italian newspaper ''La Stampa'' brought attention to false stories by ''Russia Today'' which wrongly asserted a pro-Renzi rally in Rome was actually an anti-Renzi rally. In October 2016, the Five Star Movement disseminated a video from Kremlin-aligned ''Russia Today'' which falsely reported displaying thousands of individuals protesting the 4 December 2016 scheduled referendum in Italy—when in fact the video that went on to 1.5 million views showed supporters of the referendum. List of Presidents of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, stated: "Fake news is a critical issue and we can’t ignore it. We have to act now." Boldrini met on 30 November 2016 with vice president of public policy in Europe for Facebook Richard Allan to voice concerns about fake news. She said Facebook needed to admit they were a media company.


Mexico

Elections in Mexico are always rigged by the misinformation that is let out in the public. This is true for any political party, whether they are democratic or authoritarian. Due to the false information that easily influences voters in Mexico, it can threaten that state of the country because actions that are taken by misinformed citizens. In Mexico, fake exit polls have been moving within digital media outlets. What this means is that citizens are not receiving real data on what is happening in their elections.


Moldova

Amid the 2018 local elections in Moldova a doctored video with mistranslated subtitles purported to show that the a pro-Europe party candidate for mayor of Chișinău (pop. 685,900), the capital of Moldova had proposed to lease the city of Chișinău to the UAE for 50 years. The video was watched more than 300,000 times on Facebook and almost 250,000 times on the Russian social network site OK.ru, which is popular among Moldova's Russian-speaking population.


Myanmar

In 2015, fake stories using unrelated photographs and fraudulent captions were shared online in support of the Rohingya. Fake news negatively affected individuals in Myanmar, leading to a rise in Persecution of Muslims in Myanmar, violence against Muslims in the country. Online participation surged from one percent to 20 percent of Myanmar's total populace from 2014 to 2016. Fake stories from Facebook were reprinted in paper periodicals called ''Facebook'' and ''The Internet''. False reporting related to practitioners of Islam in the country was directly correlated with increased attacks on Islam in Myanmar, people of the religion in Myanmar. Fake news fictitiously stated believers in Islam acted out in violence at Buddhist locations. ''BuzzFeed News'' documented a direct relationship between the fake news and violence against Muslim people. It noted countries that were relatively newer to Internet exposure were more vulnerable to the problems of fake news and fraud.


Pakistan

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Pakistan Ministry of Defence, Minister of Defence of Pakistan, threatened to nuke Israel on Twitter after a false story claiming that Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Ministry of Defense (Israel), Ministry of Defense, said "If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack."


Poland

In 2016 Polish historian noted fake news websites had infiltrated Poland through anti-establishment and right-wing focused sources that copied content from ''Russia Today''. Targalski observed there existed about 20 specific fake news websites in Poland which spread Russian disinformation in the form of fake news. One example cited was the false claim that
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
had claimed that the Polish city of Przemyśl was occupied by Poland. In 2020 fake news websites related to the COVID-19 pandemic have been identified and officially labelled as such by the Polish Ministry of Health.


Sweden

The
Swedish Security Service The Swedish Security Service ( sv, Säkerhetspolisen , abbreviated SÄPO, until 1989 '' Rikspolisstyrelsens säkerhetsavdelning'' abbreviated RPS/Säk) is a Swedish government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commissi ...
issued a report in 2015 identifying propaganda from Russia infiltrating Sweden with the objective to amplify pro-Russian propaganda and inflame societal conflicts. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), part of the Ministry of Defence (Sweden), Ministry of Defence of Sweden, identified fake news reports targeting Sweden in 2016 which originated from Russia. Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency official Mikael Tofvesson stated a pattern emerged where views critical of Sweden were constantly repeated. The MSB identified ''Russia Today'' and ''Sputnik News'' as significant fake news purveyors. As a result of growth in this propaganda in Sweden, the MSB planned to hire six additional security officials to fight back against the campaign of fraudulent information.


Taiwan

In a report in December 2015 by ''The China Post'', a fake video shared online showed people a light show purportedly made at the Shihmen Reservoir. The Northern Region Water Resources Office confirmed there was no light show at the reservoir and the event had been fabricated. The fraud led to an increase in tourist visits to the actual attraction.


Ukraine

''
Deutsche Welle Deutsche Welle (; "German Wave" in German) or DW is a German public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or ...

Deutsche Welle
'' interviewed the founder of Stopfake.org in 2014 about the website's efforts to debunk fake news in Ukraine, including media portrayal of the Ukrainian crisis. Co-founder Margot Gontar began the site in March 2014, and it was aided by volunteers. In 2014, ''Deutsche Welle'' awarded the fact-checker website with the People's Choice Award for Russian in its ceremony The BOBs (weblog award), The BOBs, recognizing excellence in advocacy on the Internet. Gontar highlighted an example debunked by the website, where a fictitious "Doctor Rozovskii" supposedly told ''The Guardian'' pro-Ukraine individuals refused to allow him to tend to injured in fighting with Russian supporters in 2014. Stopfake.org exposed the event was fabricated—there actually was no individual named "Doctor Rozovskii", and found the Facebook photo distributed with the incident was of a different individual from Russia with a separate identity. Former Ukraine president
Viktor Yanukovych Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych ( uk, Ві́ктор Фе́дорович Януко́вич, ; ; born 9 July 1950) is a Ukrainian politician who served as the fourth President of Ukraine from 2010 until he was removed from office in the 2014 Ukr ...

Viktor Yanukovych
's ouster from power created instability, and in 2015 the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (refer ...
concluded Russian disinformation campaigns used fake news to disrupt relations between Europe and Ukraine. Russian-financed news spread disinformation after the conflict in Ukraine motivated the European Union to found the European External Action Service specialist task force to counter the propaganda.


United Kingdom

Labour Party (UK), Labour MP Michael Dugher was assigned by Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson (Labour politician), Tom Watson in November 2016 to investigate the impact of fake news spread through social media. Watson said they would work with Twitter and Facebook to root out clear-cut circumstances of "downright lies". Watson wrote an article for ''The Independent'' where he suggested methods to respond to fake news, including Internet-based societies which fact-check in a manner modeled after Wikipedia. Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister for Culture, Matthew Hancock, stated the British government would investigate the impact of fake news and its pervasiveness on social media websites. Watson stated he welcomed the investigation into fake news by the government. On 8 December 2016,
Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service The Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service serves as the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also commonly known as MI6), which is part of the United Kingdom intelligence community. The Chief is appointed by the Secretary of State for F ...
(MI6) delivered a speech to journalists at the SIS Building, MI6 headquarters where he called fake news and propaganda damaging to democracy. Younger said the mission of MI6 was to combat propaganda and fake news in order to deliver to his government a strategic advantage in the information warfare arena, and assist other nations including European countries. He called such methods of fake news propaganda online as a "fundamental threat to our sovereignty". Younger said all nations that hold democratic values should feel the same worry over fake news.


United States


2016 election cycle

Fraudulent stories during the 2016 U.S. presidential election popularized on Facebook included a viral phenomenon, viral post that Pope Francis had endorsed
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
, and another that actor Denzel Washington "backs Trump in the most epic way possible". Donald Trump's son and campaign surrogate Eric Trump, top national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and then-campaign managers Kellyanne Conway and Corey Lewandowski shared fake news stories during the campaign.


Misuse of the term

After the 2016 election, Republican politicians and conservative media began to Reappropriation, appropriate the term by using it to describe any news they see as hostile to their agenda, according to ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'', which cited Breitbart News, Rush Limbaugh and supporters of
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
as dismissing true mainstream news reports, and any news they do not like as "fake news".


U.S. response to Russia in Syria

The Russian state-operated newswire RIA Novosti, known as Sputnik International, reported fake news and fabricated statements by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. RIA Novosti falsely reported on 7 December 2016 that Earnest stated sanctions for Russia were on the table related to Syria. RIA Novosti falsely quoted Earnest as saying: "There are a number of things that are to be considered, including some of the financial sanctions that the United States can administer in coordination with our allies. I would definitely not rule that out." However, the word "sanctions" was never used by the Press Secretary. Russia was discussed in eight instances during the press conference, but never about sanctions. The press conference focused solely on Russian air raids in Syria towards rebels fighting President of Syria Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo.


Legislative and executive responses

Members of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee traveled to Ukraine and Poland in March 2016 and heard about Russian operations to influence internal Ukrainian matters. Senator Angus King recalled they were informed about Russia "planting fake news stories" during elections. On 30 November 2016 seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked President Obama to publicize information on Russia's role in spreading disinformation in the U.S. election. On 30 November 2016, legislators approved a measure within the National Defense Authorization Act to finance the United States Department of State, U.S. State Department to act against foreign propaganda. The initiative was developed through a bipartisan bill, the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, written by U.S. Senators Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Chris Murphy (Connecticut politician), Chris Murphy. Republican U.S. Senators stated they planned to hold hearings and investigate Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. elections. By doing so they went against the preference of incoming Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who downplayed any potential Russian meddling in the election. United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, and Senator Lindsey Graham all planned investigations in the 115th United States Congress, 115th U.S. Congress session. President of the United States, U.S. President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
commented on fake news online in a speech the day before Election Day in 2016, saying social media spread lies and created a "dust cloud of nonsense". Obama commented again on the problem after the election: "if we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems." On 9 December 2016, President Obama ordered
U.S. Intelligence Community The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a group of separate United States government intelligence agencies and subordinate organizations, that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities to support the foreign po ...
to conduct a complete review of the Russian propaganda operation. In his year-end press conference on 16 December 2016, President Obama criticized a hyper-partisan atmosphere for enabling the proliferation of fake news.


Conspiracy theories and 2016 pizzeria attack

In November 2016, fake news sites and Internet forums falsely implicated the restaurant Comet Ping Pong and Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party figures as part of a fictitious child trafficking ring, which was dubbed "Pizzagate conspiracy theory, Pizzagate". The rumor was widely debunked by sources such as the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, fact-checking website
Snopes.com Snopes , formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking Fact-checking is a process that seeks to verify sometimes factual information, in order to promote the veracity and correctness of reporting. Fact-checking ca ...
, ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'', and
Fox News The Fox News Channel, abbreviated FNC, commonly known as Fox News, and stylized in all caps In typography, all caps (short for "all capitalization, capitals") refers to text or a typeface, font in which all letters are capital letters, for ...
. The restaurant's owners were harassed and threatened, and increased their security. On 4 December 2016, an individual from Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into the restaurant to "self-investigate" this conspiracy theory. He brought a semi-automatic rifle, and fired shots before being arrested; no one was injured. The suspect told police that he planned to "self-investigate" the conspiracy theory, and was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a pistol without a license, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and carrying a rifle or shotgun outside the home or business. After the incident, future National Security Advisor (United States), National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and his son Michael G. Flynn were criticized by many reporters for spreading the rumors. Two days after the shooting, Trump fired Michael G. Flynn from his transition team in connection with Flynn's Twitter posting of fake news. Days after the attack,
Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton ( Rodham; born October 26, 1947) is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker who served as the 67th United States secretary of state The United States secretary of state is an of ...

Hillary Clinton
spoke out on the dangers of fake news in a tribute speech to retiring Senator Harry Reid at the United States Capitol, U.S. Capitol, and called the problem an epidemic.


2018 midterm elections

To track junk news shared on Facebook during the 2018 midterm elections, th
Junk News Aggregator
was launched by th
Computational Propaganda Project
of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. This Aggregator is a public platform, offering three interactive tools for tracking in near real-time public posts shared on Facebook by junk news sources, showing the content and the user engagement numbers that these posts have received.


Response


Fact-checking websites and journalists

Fact-checking websites
FactCheck.org FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that describes itself as a "consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics". It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg Sch ...
, PolitiFact.com and
Snopes.com Snopes , formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking Fact-checking is a process that seeks to verify sometimes factual information, in order to promote the veracity and correctness of reporting. Fact-checking ca ...
authored guides on how to respond to fraudulent news. FactCheck.org advised readers to check the source, author, date, and headline of publications. They recommended their colleagues Snopes.com, ''The Washington Post'' Fact Checker, and PolitiFact.com. FactCheck.org admonished consumers to be wary of confirmation bias. PolitiFact.com used a "Fake news" tag so readers could view all stories Politifact had debunked. Snopes.com warned readers social media was used as a harmful tool by fraudsters. ''The Washington Post''s "The Fact Checker" manager Glenn Kessler (journalist), Glenn Kessler wrote that all fact-checking sites saw increased visitors during the 2016 election cycle. Unique visitors to The Fact Checker increased five-fold from the 2012 election. Will Moy, director of London-based fact-checker Full Fact, said debunking must take place over a sustained period to be effective. Full Fact worked with Google to help automate fact-checking.
FactCheck.org FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that describes itself as a "consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics". It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg Sch ...
former director Brooks Jackson said media companies devoted increased focus to the importance of debunking fraud during the 2016 election. FactCheck.org partnered with CNN's Jake Tapper in 2016 to examine the veracity of candidate statements. Angie Drobnic Holan, editor of PolitiFact.com, cautioned media companies chiefs must be supportive of debunking, as it often provokes hate mail and extreme responses from zealots. In December 2016, PolitiFact announced fake news was its selection for "Lie of the Year". PolitiFact explained its choice for the year: "In 2016, the prevalence of political fact abuse – promulgated by the words of two polarizing presidential candidates and their passionate supporters – gave rise to a spreading of fake news with unprecedented impunity." PolitiFact called fake news a significant symbol of a culture accepting of post-truth politics.


Google CEO comment and actions

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election, Google and Facebook, faced scrutiny regarding the impact of fake news. The top result on Google for election results was to a fake site. "70 News" had fraudulently written an incorrect headline and article that Trump United States presidential elections in which the winner lost the popular vote, won the popular vote against Clinton. Google later stated that prominence of the fake site in search results was a mistake. By 14 November, the "70 News" result was the second link shown when searching for results of the election. When asked shortly after the election whether fake news influenced election results, Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded: "Sure" and went on to emphasize the importance of stopping the spread of fraudulent sites. On 14 November 2016, Google responded to the problem of fraudulent sites by banning such companies from profiting on advertising from traffic through its program AdSense. Google previously had a policy for denying ads for dieting ripoffs and counterfeit merchandise. Google stated upon the announcement they would work to ban advertisements from sources that lie about their purpose, content, or publisher. The ban is not expected to apply to
news satire News satire is a type of parody A parody, also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satire, satiri ...
sites like ''The Onion'', although some satirical sites may be inadvertently blocked under the new system. On 25 April 2017, Ben Gomes wrote a blog post announcing changes to the search algorithms that would stop the "spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information." On 27 July 2017, the World Socialist Web Site published data that showed a significant drop after the 25 April announcement in Google referrals to left-wing and anti-war websites, including the ACLU, Alternet, and CounterPunch, Counterpunch. The World Socialist Web Site insists that the "fake news" charge is a cover to remove anti-establishment websites from public access, and believes the algorithm changes are infringing on the democratic right to free speech.


Facebook deliberations


Blocking fraudulent advertisers

One day after Google took action, Facebook decided to block fake sites from advertising there. Facebook said they would ban ads from sites with deceptive content, including fake news, and review publishers for compliance. These steps by both Google and Facebook intended to deny ad revenue to fraudulent news sites; neither company took actions to prevent dissemination of false stories in search engine results pages or web feeds. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the notion that fraudulent news impacted the 2016 election a "crazy idea" and denied that his platform influenced the election. He stated that 99% of Facebook's content was neither fake news nor a hoax. Zuckerberg said that Facebook is not a media company. Zuckerberg advised users to check the fact-checking website
Snopes.com Snopes , formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking Fact-checking is a process that seeks to verify sometimes factual information, in order to promote the veracity and correctness of reporting. Fact-checking ca ...
whenever they encounter fake news on Facebook. Top staff members at Facebook did not feel simply blocking ad revenue from fraudulent sites was a strong enough response, and they made an executive decision and created a secret group to deal with the issue themselves. In response to Zuckerberg's first statement that fraudulent news did not impact the 2016 election, the secret Facebook group disputed this notion, saying fake news was rampant on their website during the election cycle. The secret task force included dozens of Facebook employees.


Response

Facebook faced criticism after its decision to revoke advertising revenues from fraudulent news providers, and not take further action. After negative media coverage including assertions that fraudulent news gave the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Trump, Zuckerberg posted a second time about it on 18 November 2016. The post was a reversal of his earlier comments on the matter where he had discounted the impact of fraudulent news. Zuckerberg said there it was difficult to filter out fraudulent news because he desired open communication. Measures considered and not implemented by Facebook included adding an ability for users to tag questionable material, automated checking tools, and third-party confirmation. The 18 November post did not announce any concrete actions the company would definitively take, or when such measures would be put into usage. National Public Radio observed the changes being considered by Facebook to identify fraud constituted progress for the company into a new media entity. On 19 November 2016, BuzzFeed advised Facebook users they could report posts from fraudulent sites. Users could choose the report option: "I think it shouldn't be on Facebook", followed by: "It's a false news story." In November 2016, Facebook began assessing use of warning labels on fake news. The rollout was at first only available to a few users in a testing phase. A sample warning read: "This website is not a reliable news source. Reason: Classification Pending". ''TechCrunch'' analyzed the new feature during the testing phase and surmised it may have a tendency towards false positives. Fake news proliferation on Facebook had a negative financial impact for the company. Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research predicted that revenues could decrease by two percentage points due to the concern over fake news and loss of advertising dollars. Shortly after Mark Zuckerberg's second statement on fake news proliferation on his website, Facebook decided to engage in assisting the government of China with a version of its software in the country to allow increased censorship by the government. ''Barron's (newspaper), Barron's'' contributor William Pesek was highly critical of this move, writing by porting its fake news conundrum to China, Facebook would become a tool in that Communist Party of China, Communist Party's General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping's efforts to increase Censorship in China, censorship. Media scholar Dr. Nolan Higdon argues that relying on tech-companies to solve the issues with false information will exacerbate the problems associated with fake news. Higdon contends that tech-companies lack an incentive for solving the problem because they benefit from the proliferation of fake news. Higdon cites tech-companies utilization of data collection as one of the strongest forces empowering fake news producers. Rather than government regulation or industry censorship, Higdon argues for the introduction of critical news literacy education to American education.


Partnership with debunkers

Society of Professional Journalists president Lynn Walsh said in November 2016 that they would reach out to Facebook to assist weeding out fake news. Walsh said Facebook should evolve and admit it functioned as a media company. On 17 November 2016, the Poynter International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) published an open letter on the Poynter Institute website to Mark Zuckerberg, imploring him to utilize fact-checkers to identify fraud on Facebook. Signatories to the 2016 letter to Zuckerberg featured a global representation of fact-checking groups, including: Africa Check, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and ''The Washington Post'' Fact Checker. In his second post on the matter on 18 November 2016, Zuckerberg responded to the fraudulent news problem by suggesting usage of fact-checkers. He specifically identified fact-checking website
Snopes.com Snopes , formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking Fact-checking is a process that seeks to verify sometimes factual information, in order to promote the veracity and correctness of reporting. Fact-checking ca ...
, and pointed out that Facebook monitors links to such debunkers in reply comments to determine which original posts were fraudulent. On 15 December 2016, Facebook announced more specifics in its efforts to combat fake news and hoaxes on its site. The company said it would form a partnership with fact-checking groups that had joined the Poynter International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers' code of principles, to help debunk fraud on the site. It was the first instance Facebook had ever given third-party entities highlighted featuring in its News Feed, a significant motivator of web traffic online. The fact-checking organizations partnered with Facebook in order to confirm whether or not links posted from one individual to another on the site were factual or fraudulent. Facebook did not finance the fact-checkers, and acknowledged they could see increased traffic to their sites from the partnership. Fact-checking organizations that joined Facebook's initiative included:
ABC News ABC News is the news News is information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making process. For example, a single customer’s sale at a restaurant is data ...
, ''The Washington Post'',
Snopes.com Snopes , formerly known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a fact-checking Fact-checking is a process that seeks to verify sometimes factual information, in order to promote the veracity and correctness of reporting. Fact-checking ca ...
,
FactCheck.org FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that describes itself as a "consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics". It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg Sch ...
,
PolitiFact PolitiFact.com is an American Nonprofit organization, nonprofit project operated by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, with offices there and in Washington, D.C. It began in 2007 as a project of the ''Tampa Bay Times'' (then the ' ...
, and the
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publ ...

Associated Press
. Fraudulent articles will receive a warning tag: "disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers". The company planned to start with obvious cases of hoaxes shared specifically for fraudulent purposes to gain money for the purveyor of fake news. Users may still share such tagged articles, and they will show up farther down in the news feed with an accompanying warning. Facebook will employ staff researchers to determine whether
website spoofing Website spoofing is the act of creating a website, as a hoax, with the intention of misleading readers that the website has been created by a different person or organization. Normally, the spoof website will adopt the design of the target website ...
has occurred, for example "washingtonpost.co" instead of the real washingtonpost.com. In a post on 15 December, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged the changing nature of Facebook: "I think of Facebook as a technology company, but I recognize we have a greater responsibility than just building technology that information flows through. While we don't write the news stories you read and share, we also recognize we're more than just a distributor of news. We're a new kind of platform for public discourse -- and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed."


Proposed technology tools

''New York (magazine), New York'' magazine contributor Brian Feldman created a Google Chrome extension that would warn users about fraudulent news sites. He invited others to use his code and improve upon it. Upworthy co-founder and ''The Filter Bubble'' author Eli Pariser launched an open-source model initiative on 17 November 2016 to address false news. Pariser began a Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Google Document to collaborate with others online on how to lessen the phenomenon of fraudulent news. Pariser called his initiative: "Design Solutions for Fake News". Pariser's document included recommendations for a ratings organization analogous to the Better Business Bureau, and a database on media producers in a format like Wikipedia. Writing for ''Fortune'', Matthew Ingram agreed with the idea that Wikipedia could serve as a helpful model to improve Facebook's analysis of potentially fake news. Ingram concluded Facebook could benefit from a social network form of fact-checking similar to Wikipedia's methods while incorporating debunking websites such as PolitiFact.com.


Others

Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church, spoke out against fake news in an interview with the Belgian Catholic weekly ' on 7 December 2016. The Pope had prior experience being the subject of a fake news website fiction—during the 2016 U.S. election cycle, he was falsely said to support Donald Trump for president. Pope Francis said the singular worst thing the news media could do was spreading
disinformation Disinformation is false or misleading information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The c ...
and that amplifying fake news instead of educating society was a sin. He compared salacious reporting of scandals, whether true or not, to coprophilia and the consumption of it to coprophagy. The Pope said that he did not intend to offend with his strong words, but emphasized that "a lot of damage can be done" when the truth is disregarded and slander is spread.


Academic analysis

Jamie Condliffe wrote that banning ad revenue from fraudulent sites was not aggressive enough action by Facebook to deal with the problem, and did not prevent fake news from appearing in Facebook news feeds. University of Michigan political scientist Brendan Nyhan criticized Facebook for not doing more to combat fake news amplification. Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University computer science professor Filippo Menczer commented on measures by Google and Facebook to deny fraudulent sites revenue, saying it was a good step to reduce motivation for fraudsters. Menczer's research team engaged in developing an online tool titled: Hoaxy — to see the pervasiveness of unconfirmed assertions as well as related debunking on the Internet. Zeynep Tufekci wrote critically about Facebook's stance on fraudulent news sites, stating that fraudulent websites in Macedonia profited handsomely off false stories about the 2016 U.S. election. Tufecki wrote that Facebook's algorithms, and structure exacerbated the impact of echo chamber (media), echo chambers and increased fake news blight. In 2016 Melissa Zimdars, associate professor of communications at Merrimack College, created a handout for her Introduction to Mass Communication students titled "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical 'News' Sources" and posted it on Google docs. It was circulated on social media, and on 15 November 2016 ''The Los Angeles Times'' published the class handout under the title "Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid". Zimdars said that the list "wasn't intended to be widely distributed", and expressed concern that "people are taking it as this list of 'fake' sites, which is not its purpose". On 17 November 2016 Zimdars deleted the list. On 3 January 2017, Zimdars replaced the original handout with a new list at the same URL. The new list has removed most of the sites from the original handout, added many new sites, and greatly expanded the categories. Stanford University professors Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew authored a 2016 study analyzing students' ability to discern fraudulent news from factual. The study took place over a year-long period of time, and involved a sample size of over 7,800 responses from university, secondary and middle school students in 12 states within the United States. They were surprised at the consistency with which students thought fraudulent news reports were factual. The study found 82% of students in middle school were unable to differentiate between an advertisement denoted as sponsored content from an actual news article. The authors concluded the solution was to educate online media consumers to themselves behave like fact-checkers — and actively question the veracity of all sources. A 2019 study in the journal ''Science'', which examined dissemination of fake news articles on Facebook in the 2016 election, found that sharing of fake news articles on Facebook was "relatively rare", conservatives were more likely than liberals or moderates to share fake news, and there is a "strong age effect", whereby individuals over 65 are vastly more likely to share fake news than younger cohorts. Another 2019 study in ''Science'' found, "fake news accounted for nearly 6% of all news consumption [on Twitter], but it was heavily concentrated—only 1% of users were exposed to 80% of fake news, and 0.1% of users were responsible for sharing 80% of fake news. Interestingly, fake news was most concentrated among conservative voters." Scientist Emily Willingham has proposed applying the scientific method to fake news analysis. She had previously written on the topic of differentiating science from pseudoscience, and proposed applying that logic to fake news. She calls the recommended steps Observe, Question, Hypothesize, Analyze data, Draw conclusion, and Act on results. Willingham suggested a hypothesis of "This is real news", and then forming a strong set of questions to attempt to disprove the hypothesis. These tests included: check the URL, date of the article, evaluate reader bias and writer bias, double-check the evidence, and verify the sources cited. University of Connecticut philosophy professor Michael P. Lynch said that a troubling number of individuals make determinations relying upon the most recent piece of information they've consumed. He said the greater issue however was that fake news could make people less likely to believe news that really is true. Lynch summed up the thought process of such individuals, as "...ignore the facts because nobody knows what’s really true anyway." In 2019, David Lazer and other researchers, from Northeastern University, Harvard University, and the University at Buffalo, analyzed engagement with a previously defined set of fake news sources on Twitter. They found that such engagement was highly concentrated both among a small number of websites and a small number of Twitter users. Five percent of the sources accounted for over fifty percent of exposures. Among users, 0.1 percent consumed eighty percent of the volume from fake news sources.


See also

* Clickbait * Confirmation bias * Disinformation * Echo chamber (media) * Euromyth * Fallacy of composition * False equivalence * Filter bubble * Information silo * List of fake news websites * Lamestream media * Post-truth politics * Selective exposure theory * Spiral of silence * Tribe (Internet) *
Yellow journalism Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of report Image:Hurt Report cover page.png, 220px, Example of a front page of a report A report is a document that prese ...


Footnotes


References


Further reading

* * *
Final report of the EU Commission's High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation. March 2018.
* * * * *


Guides to avoid fake news online


Fake-news, news-satire, clickbait, and hate sites
an auto-updated compilation of active untrustworthy websites from the major curated fake-news site lists by the Columbia Journalism Review * * * * * * ;Videos * * * *


External links


"How Do We Know What Is True?" (animated video; 2:52)" List of unreliable misleading news websites""Websites that circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information"
{{Portal bar, Internet, Politics, Psychology Disinformation operations Fake news, * Fake news websites, * Internet fraud Internet hoaxes Internet manipulation and propaganda Journalistic hoaxes News media manipulation Propaganda techniques Conspiracist media