30 March 2017
Fake news is probably as old as news itself. Certainly, as far as the British Library is concerned, it goes back to 1614 at least, when the good people of Horsham in Sussex were told of the dragon in their area that was causing great annoyance. Whether those who produced this newsbook believed what they were telling to be "true and wonderfull", who can say?
True and Wonderfull. A discourse relating a strange and monstrous serpent (or dragon) lately discovered, and yet living in Sussex, 1614 newsbook
Today, the subject of fake news is hot news, coming out of the 2016 US presidential election, but with deeper roots in the clash between traditional news providers and the search engines and social media sites through which so many now discover the news that they want to see. Fake news ranges from deliberate falsity, to news you disagree with, to satire. This special edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer rounds up some of what is being said and done about fake news today.
Fake news: what is it, and how can we tackle it? (Digital Social Innovation) - A handy summary from Toby Baker of NESTA
Fake news. It's complicated (First Draft News) - Claire Wardle attempts to explain and categorise the many types of 'fake news'
Fake News Watch - Want to know what is a fake site, a satire site, or a clickbait site? Fake News Watch attempts to list them (mostly if not all American). Other lists of fake news sites have been produced by ThoughtCo, Snopes, The Independent, and of course Wikipedia
The Ultimate 'Fake News' List (Infowars) - But just to show that one person's truth is another person's outrageous lie, here's an American far right show's listing of the fakery it sees in the mainstream media
CrossCheck - A fact-checking site from First Draft News, formed through a coalition of 37 publishers, mostly from France and Britain, including the BBC, Channel 4 News, Le Monde, BuzzFeed, and Agence France-Presse. Digiday's report European newsrooms are forming a united front against fake news gives the background.
The Independent is launching a section called In Fact to debunk fake news (The Drum) - The Independent is launching a new section called 'In Fact' in April which will 'debunk spurious stories'. Other fact checking sites that have popped up include FactCheck, Politifact and Fake News Checker.
Fact Check blog - Channel 4 News has produced a fact check blog following a season of programmes on fake news (including a one-off comedy show). Awkwardly the news programme made a bad slip on the day of the Westminster attack of 22 March, naming the wrong person as the perpetrator, as Richard Smallbrook covers in Westminster attack: Channel 4 learn hard lessons about the fog of breaking news (The Conversation)
Bellingcat Wants Your Help to Debunk Fake News (Vice) - The fact-checking citizen journalism network and scourge of Russia news outlets Bellingcat has launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand its open source investigation platform
RT separates facts from fakes with new online project (RT) - Not to be outdone, RT (Russia Today) has launched its own fact checking service in the battle against fake news, Fakecheck
Facebook and Google
Building Global Community (Facebook) - Mark Zuckerberg has issued a manifesto, which in part addresses the topic of the distribution of fake news (Facebook having been the target of many of the complaints made):
We've made progress fighting hoaxes the way we fight spam, but we have more work to do. We are proceeding carefully because there is not always a clear line between hoaxes, satire and opinion. In a free society, it's important that people have the power to share their opinion, even if others think they're wrong. Our approach will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute an item's accuracy.
How Mark Zuckerberg could really fix journalism (Columbia Journalism Review) - Emily Bell responds to Zuckerberg, suggesting that market intervention in America is the answer:
America needs a radical new market intervention similar to that made by the UK Government in 1922 when it issued a Royal Charter and established the BBC ... If, instead of scrapping over news initiatives, the four or five leading technology companies could donate $1 billion in endowment each for a new type of engine for independent journalism, it would be more significant a contribution than a thousand scattered initiatives put together.
Facebook has started to flag fake news stories (Recode) - Meanwhile, Facebook has introduced a 'disputed' tag
Google purges nearly 200 websites in fake news crackdown (Mashable) - Google has been shutting down fake news sites from its advertising platform
Google's fake news Snippets (BBC) - Rory Cellan-Jones's sneak preview of the Google Home speaker showed how it could spout false news in response to spoken enquiries. Google is now adjusting the algorithms...
Google and Facebook Can’t Just Make Fake News Disappear (Back Channel) - Danah Boyd thinks the problem with the interpretation of news lies with us
Real fake news
How fake news becoming a popular, trending topic (CBS News) - CBS News looks into actual fake news stories created by con artists
Inside the Macedonian fake-news complex (Wired) - More on the production of actual fake news from the unlikely source of the town of Veles in Macedonia
US spoof news site The Real Fake News
'Fake news' inquiry (Parliament.uk) - The Culture, Sport and Media Committee is conducting an inquiry into fake news and its impact
What to know about Germany’s fake-news crackdown (Digiday) - Germany has proposed a law to fine social networks up to €50 million if they fail to remove harmful fake news or defamatory content
World wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee targets fake news (BBC) - Sir Tim has set out a five-year strategy amid concerns he has about how the web is being used
Announcing New Research: "A Field Guide to Fake News" (First Draft News) - First Draft News have also announced a project that aims "to catalyze collaborations between leading digital media researchers, data journalists and civil society groups in order to map the issue and phenomenon of fake news in US and European politics"
Updates from the fake-news world (NiemanLab) - US journalism studies site NiemanLab provides useful round-ups of the efforts being made to tackle fake news. The latest update, Is it still fake news if it makes you feel good?, has interesting points to make about the sharing of positive but made-up news
Lessons from the fake news pandemic of 1942 (Politco) - There's nothing new under the sun - Joshua Zeitz reports on a race-related fake news story that circulated in the American south in 1942
Trump’s “fake news” playbook has roots in a 180-year-old hoax (Quartz) - Corinne Purtill takes the issue back further to 1835, and the widespread report on life having been discovered on the Moon
The real story of 'fake news' (Merriam Webster) - The American dictionary traces use of the term 'fake news' back to the 1890s - but 'false news' goes back to the 16th century
Good news in an era of fake news: the public is becoming wiser about how the media works (The Conversation) - It's an ill wind ... James Rodgers points out that all of this is greatly improving the public's understanding of how the media works
The term ‘fake news’ isn’t just annoying, it’s a danger to democracy (The Independent) - Sean O'Grady is angry
Fake News : The Greatest Lies Ever Told (TruePublica) - So where are the UK's homegrown fake news sites? In a contentious thought piece, Graham Venbergen argues that "In Britain at least, fake news websites have failed to get a grip in the political arena. This is because traditional British news outlets, are already highly accomplished at stretching the truth to its limits and yet still get away with it"
Britain Has No Fake News Industry Because Our Partisan Newspapers Already Do That Job (Buzzfeed) - Jim Waterson similarly argues that very limited appetite for completely fake news in British politics, thanks to its highly partisan newspapers
The Choose-Your-Own-News Adventure (New York Times) - Jim Rutenberg illustrates how we can escape reality by pursuing news worlds that match our expectations. But isn't this how news has always worked?
'Fake news' to be delightful and fun (Daily Mash) - Let's leave the last word to our favourite UK spoof news site:
The Institute for Studies has shown that real news is bad enough already, and therefore all fake news from now on must be unbelievably delightful. Professor Henry Brubaker said: “If the ‘news’ on social media is just whatever b------- anyone shares, then instead of ‘Muslims in council-backed halal Easter outrage’ why not ‘Puppies discover limitless cold fusion energy source’?