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Increasing of Fake News

The number of Google searches for the term fake news increased by more than 1,000 percent in the last four months of 2016 (Google). It has been used extensively by people like now-president Donald Trump, often in reference to mainstream media and news organizations during and after the 2016 election. Since then the term has become commonplace and was even named as the 2017 word of the year (Newsweek). Its ubiquity has contributed to the real definition being blurred. Calling media ‘fake news’ has contributed to a growing distrust of the media, the press, and especially of anything that doesn’t align with people’s political views. A free press is an important part of our democracy and one of the fundamental rights of our country.

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To prevent people from having blind distrust in media and news, the definition of fake news should be changed to include only propaganda created to intentionally mislead people, imitate real news, and accomplish an agenda. Currently, the common definition of fake news includes news that is perceived to be untrue or biased. While the Cambridge definition is “news created to mislead”(Cambridge), the connotation has mainly shifted to anything that seems “untrustworthy,” largely because of its use in this way by Donald Trump. The usage of the term Fake News, however harmless it may seem, has been eroding our trust in the media. According to a recent poll by Gallup, American trust in the media reached all-time lows in 2017(Gallup).

There has been a noticeable rise in misinformation and news that really is fake, but by grouping this along with news that is not fake, we diminish both the positive value of news and the harms of propaganda. When people lose trust in the press, it means they become less informed and aware of what is happening in the country. There is a reason that the framers of the Constitution put freedom of the press in the First Amendment, along with freedom of speech and religion. Informed citizens are necessary for any democracy since the votes of citizens are what control the government. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence said in 1787 that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”(Washington Post). Not knowing what news is real and what news is fake is arguably as bad for our democracy as not having news at all. The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘fake’ as “not genuine, a forgery or scam” (Cambridge).

This is an important distinction from the word false, meaning simply incorrect. When people use the word fake to describe news, it is much more harmful than describing it as simply false. It goes deeper, causing people to be less aware of what is true and what is not. A study published in September by Emily Van Duyn and Jessica Collier furthers this idea, saying that “discourse about fake news leads to lower levels of trust in media and less accurate identification of real news.” They go on to say that “This discourse (about fake news) may also prompt the dissemination of false information, particularly when fake news is discussed by elites without context and caution.” Logically, it makes sense that when we hear reputable news sources being called fake, it impedes our ability to differentiate between facts and misinformation. This is why the use of the term has contributed so much to distrust in the media, as well as actually helping the spread of fake news. Because the term fake news is so harmful to perceptions of news in general, we should restrict its definition to only when it is truly needed. President Trump and his administration often complain about “mainstream media” and how it is “fake news.”

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By mainstream media, they usually mean news sources like The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, and CBS. Most of these organizations have some sort of left-leaning political bias and have published many criticisms of Donald Trump over his time in office. Despite any political bias they may have, the facts that they report are almost always true. The reason these sources are seen as ‘mainstream’ is that over time they have proven to be trustworthy and accurate, earning the trust of the majority of the population. So the argument that being mainstream is a criterion for fake news is illogical; we should be extra skeptical of news that comes from sources outside the mainstream since they have not shown their trustworthiness and validity. When people say ‘fake news’ they often refer to the political bias shown by news organizations. But using bias as a defining characteristic of fake news is a flawed idea since essentially all sources of news have some level of bias.

Obviously, some media is much more biased than others, but it is still impossible to define exactly how much bias something has. Instead of ignoring news coming from sources we think of as biased, and calling then fake news, we should look at multiple sources to get the most accurate view on current events. Of course, in some situations, the use of the term fake news is warranted. When news is actually created for the purpose of misleading people, it is justified for it to be called fake. We should define it primarily based on the intentions of the people publishing it, and less on the actual information being published.

Examples of this include fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook spreading false information and political views, and news websites with URL’s similar to those of legitimate news organizations. With these examples of fake news, it is clear that there was an intent to mislead people, an attempt to pose as real news, and an agenda behind it. What we call fake news should be clearly produced for the sake of misleading people. By defining fake news using these three factors, we can cut down on the amount that we use the term, only using it when truly deserved. While the dictionary definition of fake news is correct, the more important connotation needs to be changed, and we need to stop using the term to mean untrustworthy, biased, or mainstream. The less we say “fake news” for things that are not fake, the more trust we will have in the media, and the better we will be able to differentiate between truth and fiction, strenthening our democracy and society.

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Increasing of Fake News
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The number of Google searches for the term fake news increased by more than 1,000 percent in the last four months of 2016 (Google). It has been used extensively by people like now-president Donald Trump, often in reference to mainstream media and news organizations during and after the 2016 election. Since then the term has become commonplace and was even named as the 2017 word of the year (Newsweek). Its ubiquity has contributed to the real definition being blurred. Calling media ‘fake news
2021-08-20 03:35:35
Increasing of Fake News
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
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