False news is not a new concept. It’s just a new phrase describing an old problem that has always existed in some form or another. It has wormed its way into the national discourse through counterfeit news outlets, bogus print publications, and social media. False news can be broken down into five categories: (1) fake, (2) misleading, (3) highly partisan, (4) click bait, and (5) satire. Misleading news is the most difficult to identify because it often contains a kernel of truth taken out of original context and then sensationalized. False news is different from satire, which uses humor, sarcasm, irony, exaggeration or some other approach to make a point. And unlike legitimate news that may contain unintentional errors made under deadline pressure or some other valid circumstance, false news reflects a deliberate attempt to deceive for the purpose of persuasion, influence, or profit. Deliberate omissions of the complete truth, hoaxes, lies, and propaganda are often wrapped in cloaks of credibility which make them intentionally challenging to identify. The only way to stop the spread of false and misleading news is to exercise a healthy dose of informed skepticism and follow the “when in doubt, then don’t” rule. Don’t use information in an assignment, post it on social media, or relay it to others in any way that implies truth, if you suspect it is not completely truthful.
Portions of this content are excerpted and adapted from CQ Researcher’s -- Fact or Fiction?