Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership, online sharing, and Internet click revenue. In the latter case, it is similar to sensational online "clickbait" headlines and relies on advertising revenue generated from this activity, regardless of the veracity of the published stories. Intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news is different from obvious satire or parody, which is intended to amuse rather than mislead its audience.
The relevance of fake news has increased in post-truth politics. For media outlets, the ability to attract viewers to their websites is necessary to general online advertising revenue. If publishing a story with false content attracts users, it may be worthy of producing in order to benefit advertisers and ratings. Easy access to online advertisement revenue, increased political polarization, and the popularity of social media, primarily the Facebook News Feed, have all been implicated in the spread of fake news, which has come to provide competition for legitimate news stories. Hostile government actors have also been implicated in generating and propagating fake news, particularly during elections.
Fake news also undermines serious media coverage and makes it more difficult for journalists to cover significant news stories. An analysis by Buzzfeed found that the top 20 fake news stories about the 2016 U.S. presidential election received more engagement on Facebook than the top 20 news stories on the election from 19 major media outlets. Anonymously-hosted fake news websites lacking known publishers have also been criticized, because they make it difficult to prosecute sources of fake news for libel.
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