Types of fake news
There are different types of fake news, depending on the motivation of those who create it. For example:
Sensationalism sells, and outrageous or weird stories and distorted images drive clicks and shares online. Clickbait refers to stories deliberately designed to get more website visitors and increase advertising revenue for the website owners – often at the expense of truth and accuracy.
This refers to false or distorted stories written to mislead audiences and promote a political agenda or biased perspective.
Poor quality journalism
Sometimes, journalists don’t have time to check all their facts before publishing, leading to genuine mistakes becoming fake news. However, trusted new sources will correct errors in their stories and be transparent with readers when they’ve got things wrong.
Sometimes a story may be broadly true, but a sensationalist or misleading headline is used to entice readers to click on it. This can lead to fake news – since usually only the headline and small snippets of the article are displayed on social media, where it can quickly spread.
This is when genuine news sources are impersonated with false, made-up stories to deceive or mislead audiences.
Satire or parody
Some fake news is published for entertainment value. For example, satirical stories use humor, irony, or exaggeration to joke about the news or famous people. These stories don’t attempt to mislead audiences because they aren’t meant to be taken seriously. Notable examples of satirical websites include The Onion and The Daily Mash.
High-profile politicians have been known to dismiss stories they disagree with – which may be factual and verified – as “fake news”. Because the term “fake news” is expansive and means different things to different people, it can be contested. In 2018, the British Government banned the term from official papers or documents, claiming it was too poorly defined to be meaningful. Instead, it prefers to use the terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” when describing false stories:
- Disinformation– fake or misleading stories created and shared deliberately, often by a writer who might have a financial or political motive to do so.
- Misinformation – this also means fake or misleading stories, but in this case, the stories may not have been deliberately created or shared with the intention to mislead.