The term “fake news” is used in two very different ways. The original meaning is to spread disinformation disguised as news. In recent times, “fake news” has also begun to be used as a slogan to make the media suspicious, or to discredit what does not agree with one’s own worldview.
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What does fake news mean?
The original use of “fake news” means to spread misinformation that is packaged to look like news. It is thus about when someone deliberately manipulates the truth or spreads lies to influence people – either for political, ideological or economic gain.
The method of disseminating disinformation through “fake news” has developed and become more common with the development of the internet and where fake news sites and social media are used to spread the disinformation.
The fake articles often play on emotions and use startling headlines to increase the number of readers and get recipients to react and spread the content further.
An example of “fake news” is an article that was widely circulated in 2016 where it was alleged that Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven wore a Patek Philippe watch, worth around SEK 270,000. It turned out to be completely wrong, the watch was developed by an American trade union and the Prime Minister had had it since the 1990s.
A second meaning of “fake news” was popularized by Donald Trump
“Fake news” has also begun to be used as a baton to make dissidents suspicious, or to discredit what does not agree with one’s own worldview.
This use was established in 2016 when Donald Trump during his election campaign began to use the term “fake news” to discredit the American press when they wrote negatively about him. In this way, the perception spread among his followers that large news organizations engaged in deliberate lies and liberal propaganda.
During his presidency, Donald Trump continued to use the term as a way to dispel criticism, calling serious news outlets such as the New York Times and CNN liars.