‘Fake news’ is an imprecise term, and the phenomenon represents a growing distrust in media institutions

“For a term that is suddenly everywhere, ‘fake news’ is fairly slippery,” Adrienne LaFrance argues. “Is ‘fake news’ a reference to government propaganda designed to look like independent journalism? Or is it any old made-up bullshit that people share as real on the internet? Is ‘fake news’ the appropriate label for a hoax meant to make a larger point? Does a falsehood only become ‘fake news’ when it shows up on a platform like Facebook as legitimate news? What about conspiracy theorists who genuinely believe the outrageous lies they’re sharing? Or satire intended to entertain? And is it still ‘fake news’ if we’re talking about a real news organization that unintentionally gets it wrong? … Finally, do any of these distinctions matter if the end result — widespread confusion and disagreement over what’s real and true — is the same?”

+ Facebook is patenting a tool that could automate the removal of fake news, a project that’s been in the works since 2015 (The Verge); NBC News SVP of digital Nick Ascheim says Facebook has a “civic responsibility” to act on fake news (Digiday); A new poll from Morning Consult finds “a majority of people think internet service providers, social media platforms, search engines and the government all share responsibility for removing the misleading content” (Morning Consult); Google is replacing its desktop “In the News” section, which has been criticized for spreading false stories, with a carousel of “top stories” (Business Insider)

+ If you needed another reason to stop yourself from sharing fake stories, Pope Francis says that spreading misinformation is “probably the greatest damage that the media can do” (Reuters)