To most people, the “fake news” phenomenon is a symptom of the contentious 2016 political campaign in the U.S. Some bloggers discovered they could earn lots of clickthrough ad money by focusing on false content that pandered to one campaign or the other. Posted on Facebook and other social networks, it was often a matter of having a provocative piece linked and retweeted to soon reach tens of millions of people.
Closing the barn door proved difficult, if not impossible. Even if a story is clearly false — and I’m not going to dwell on the political byplay — people will believe it if it meets their expectations or fears. Sometimes, if you want to refute a story, one questionable response is not to bother with the facts, real or false, but just label it “fake news.” The message is crystal clear.
So how does fake news relate to our little corner of the world?
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