t’s too soon to say whether Google’s and Facebook’s attempts to clamp down on fake news will have a significant impact. But fabricated stories posing as serious journalism are not likely to go away as they have become a means for some writers to make money and potentially influence public opinion. Even as Americans recognize that fake news causes confusion about current issues and events, they continue to circulate it. A December 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center suggests that 23 percent of U.S. adults have shared fake news, knowingly or unknowingly, with friends and others.
“Fake news” is a term that can mean different things, depending on the context. News satire is often called fake news as are parodies such as the “Saturday Night Live” mock newscast Weekend Update. Much of the fake news that flooded the internet during the 2016 election season consisted of written pieces and recorded segments promoting false information or perpetuating conspiracy theories. Some news organizations published reports spotlighting examples of hoaxes, fake news and misinformation on Election Day 2016.
While much has been written about fake news, scholars have published a limited amount of peer-reviewed research on the topic. Below, Journalist’s Resource has compiled studies that examine fake news and the spread of misinformation more broadly to help journalists better understand the problem and its impacts. Some other resources that may be helpful are the Poynter Institute’s tips on debunking fake news stories and the First Draft Partner Network, a global collaboration of newsrooms, social media platforms and fact-checking organizations that was launched in September 2016 to battle fake news.