Publication Date: February 2017
Publisher: First Draft
Research and Editorial Team: Claire Wardle, First Draft

The term "fake news" is increasingly recognised as problematic, but in order to find alternatives - the article argues - it is necessary to understand the current information ecosystem and take into consideration three factors: 

  • the different types of content;
  • the motivation of the creators;
  • the ways of dissemination.

Credit: Claire Wardle, First Draft

The authors distinguish seven types of mis-information and disinformation:

  • satire or parody
  • misleading content
  • imposter content
  • fabricated content
  • false connection
  • false context
  • manipulated content

Credit: Claire Wardle, First Draft

Then they distinguish eight motivations (8 "Ps"), that can be put in a matrix with the different types of mis-information and disinformation:

  • poor journalism
  • to parody
  • to provoke or “punk”
  • passion
  • partisanship
  • profit
  • political influence
  • propaganda

In terms of dissemination mechanisms, the article finds four:

  • unwitting sharing by social media users
  • amplification by journalists
  • pushing by loosely connected groups
  • dissemination in sophisticated disinformation campaigns (botnets and troll factories)

Finally, authors argue that everyone should take responsibility to keep the information ecosystem clean and people should be educated to second guess their instinctual reactions before sharing.

Tags: Fake news and disinformation Media literacy

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