Fake News

Fake news is a threat to the “fabric of democracy”. That’s according to a 2018 report by British MPs, who argue that disinformation on social media is undermining trust in information more generally. News that contradicts or challenges our worldview is labelled “fake news” and dismissed. News that supports or reinforces our beliefs is shared and spread.

In November 2019, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, launched a Contract for the Web to tackle misinformation, privacy violations, and other abuses, arguing that: “We’re at a tipping point. How we respond to this abuse will determine whether the web lives up to its potential as a global force for good or leads us into a digital dystopia.”

So, what exactly is “fake news”? Although the term was popularised by Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential election, the Oxford English Dictionary dates the first use of the phrase to as far back as 1890. It is a contentious expression, and some fact checking websites have stopped using it altogether because they argue the definition has shifted to include any information which readers find threatening.

Want to learn more about ‘fake news’? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

Fake News

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Randomguy2017 arguing that it’s “easy” to spot fake news. For him, any mainstream media is obviously fake news (and, presumably, social media posts and YouTube videos are automatically more trustworthy).

Is it really as easy as Randomguy2017 is suggesting? To get a reaction, we spoke to Hugo Travers, a.k.a HugoDécrypte, a popular French political YouTuber. What would he say? Has he ever been fooled by fake news, and does he think it’s easy to spot?

For another perspective, we put the same question to Adeline Brion, Acting Project Director & Belgium Programme Coordinator at Lie Detectors, an organisation promoting the teaching of critical thinking and media literacy in schools. What would she say?

We also put the question to Enrique A. Fonseca Porras, co-founder of the VisualPolitik YouTube channel, which focuses on explaining and exploring global politics. How would he respond?

Maybe fake news isn’t so easy to spot. In that case, how can we protect ourselves against it? We had a suggestion sent in from HJo, who thinks the solution might be to start teaching students in schools how to spot fake news. Is it a crazy idea? Should students be taught media literacy?

How would the French political YouTuber HugoDécrypte respond?

Next, we asked Adeline Brion, whose organisation (Lie Detectors) is actively promoting media literacy in schools. Why does she think it’s a good idea?

Finally, what would Enrique A. Fonseca Porras from the YouTube channel VisualPolitik say about the idea?

Can you spot ‘fake news’? Is it easy to sort good information from bad online? And should media literacy be taught in schools? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

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28 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    mainstream media seems to be full of fake news,
    but EU organizations monitoring “fake news” and meddling, only monitor *foreign sources*, isn’t that true?

  2. avatar

    The mainstream media tell a lot a fake news

  3. avatar

    ‘Yellow Journalism’ has been around a long time and the media has long used ‘test baloons’ – ‘fake news is not much different , so, as always, check sources and, read up on the sources you check! ( for their affiliations/links, history, about… And inform yourself on matters that matter using primary sources if possible. Yes, it’s possible to spot ‘fake news’, but even the most diligent at doing so can be duped at times and realize that ‘anyone’ can find ‘phony facts’ to bolster thier case or whatever they are tryting to push. What was once ‘common sense’ has become uncommon so guard up.

  4. avatar

    no way
    fake news, make money roll

  5. avatar

    Just look at media that praised US agents fighting for “democracy” in HK, you can spot fake news. When US agents are burning people alive, using social media to teach where to cut the major blood vessel of the police, hitting innocent people with hammers on the head when they express patriotism and accused violence, etc. you can see these media are spreading fake news.

    • avatar

      This is a confusing post, not sure what you mean?

  6. avatar

    I find it difficult to trust so called ‘credible media’ too. Some are aligned with some political party or some cause or agenda. Some truths are evaded. Sometimes only a small part of a much bigger picture is reported on. When reporting isn’t objective anymore it is just manipulation. People are tired of being manipulated. Objective honesty and explaining the bigger picture are credible now, no matter the source.

    • avatar
      Jean Philippe Cornelis

      The main problem is that the majority of the big powerfull media are the property of billionairs who realy don’t want to give access to news that are disturbing their interests and that they hire therefore cynical journalists who play that game to earn a living!

  7. avatar

    No, i believe everything Donald Trump says. Believe me

  8. avatar

    When political and politicized opinion is mixed with facts, then we have a difficult time to discern what is fake and what is true. The two should be separated from the start. News should be about facts. Opinions should be considered as opinion pieces and not mixed with the facts.

  9. avatar

    The ones who should be telling the truth, are the ones spreading fake news.

  10. avatar

    Yes! Spotting fake news should be taught in the schools.

  11. avatar

    The problem is not really “fake” news, but opinions that are based on fake information. Perhaps we need to teach children to be more discerning instead of accepting all that they are given as information.

  12. avatar

    The member states themselves produce fakes… Bush produced fakes about Irak… EU produces fakes about migrations and organisé pity with fakes pictures of kids…

  13. avatar

    There are many problems surrounding the labelling of fake news. Firstly, mainstream media and many social websites follow the beliefs, opinions or agendas of their owners. So stories are skewed to make their opinion appear favourable and opposing opinions unfavorable. this breeds mistrust in the reader if they don’t share the same view. Some social media fact-checkers appear to cherry-pick actual facts and label them as fake news when it is not inline with the owners views and opinions. Secondly, maybe what should be clearly stated from now on is that the story is a persons opinion based on a collection of facts that doesn’t necessarily make the opinion true. This could be done with identifying labels such as ‘opinion piece’ or ‘personal opinion’ with a disclaimer that clearly states that even though some facts have been used the rest of the story is an opinion not a fact. We cannot stop free-thinking and free-thought. Clear labelling is required.

  14. avatar
    Return the 80s movement

    Debating Europe also tries to influence with there own political views mostly with liberal debating topics. All the news is owned by certain groups of people and with politicals views that they try to influence people. Especially the mainstream media. Just that its mainstream doesn’t confirm that the news is true or not in a way support political views.

  15. avatar

    Do not expect EU citizens to spot ‘fake news’ if EU leaders fail to spot the fake news on Xinjiang cotton fabricated by the BBC.

  16. avatar

    Very rare the general public can have sufficient capacity to spot ‘fake news’. Learned people can spot more easily but still need to spend time and effort to verify. However, this does not mean that politicians can tell lies and cheat the people for support. As we have seen Nancy Pelosi highly praised violent attacks of Hong Kong by rioters as a beautiful sights to behold. Instantly, an even more beautiful sight immediately appeared in the US right at their Congress building.
    Even worse, it led to the death of four individuals. In this IT era, people can receive information all over the world and learn very quickly. Politicians better stop using fake news to affect public opinion. If a citizen body is filled with hatred and brains are stuck with fake news, I cannot see how a nation can grow more prosper and powerful. It is hope that Europe, being the source of modernity, would not follow such a pathological development.

  17. avatar

    School cannot teach how to spot fake news. No authority can tell which news is fake unless supported by facts. People must learn the attitude and acquire the tool to seek truth and find fact support. This has been advocated in the Enlightenment era.

  18. avatar

    How to stop ‘fake news’? Is to empower people with equal access to information all over the world, which is, to control US internet oligarch from selectively controlling the circulation of information by forcing the public to receive information, ‘fake/bias information’ for American interests. These fake news has proven to be damaging Europe’s political and economic interest. The BBC reporter fabricated the Xinjiang cotton fake news is now hiding in Taiwan, trying to escape his legal liability. Because the people of Xinjiang are trying to sue him for economic damage by spreading fake news on Xinjiang’s cotton production. Unfortunately, the EU Parliament has not verified the fact and frozen the discussion of the Europe China Investment Agreement. Throughout this eight-year long EU-China investment negotiation, China’s GDP has doubled. How the EU has been performing? The follow news is from Financial Times: “Sunak insists UK must bolster China ties as access to EU market decline” This is the reality.
    >>> https://www.ft.com/content/a571fcea-a4eb-484a-9227-cae47c5368ef

  19. avatar

    I think China’s sanction of former American Secretary of States Pompeo and UK barrister chamber is more to punish them from spreading fake news than political reason. A chamber publicly uploaded a legal opinion letter on a piece of unverified news on Xinjiang for political purpose is simply unacceptable for this has led to the EU Parliament’s to stop discussing the Europe-China Investment Agreement. If China has really abandoned the agreement, who is going to pay for the economic loss of EU? BBC? The UK Chamber? Playing politics ought to observe the legal liability, never base on ‘fake news’. Political leaders ought to set an example for the public, never base on ‘fake news’ to win support. This is cheating.

  20. avatar

    Fake news can be spotted easily and they do not necessarily causing real harm to the whole country. However, fake intelligence fed by foreign government can be detrimental. For fake intelligence aims at misleading other government action. This does not only harm national interest and very often detrimental, particularly if political leaders are misled to join a war such as the Second Gulf War in 2003, which has led to the death of 200,000 – 250,000 civilians and millions of displaced people. Thankful to the large scale demonstration against the invasion of an independent state without sufficient evidence, EU did not follow the US to invade Iraq as we can see the US had a death toll more than 10 thousand. The war had led to death of 200,000 – 250,000 civilian with millions of displaced people.

  21. avatar

    Just look at how the US is fabricating fake news and false evidence to shed itself failure in handling the Covid-2019 which has been killing more than 620000 Americans. The US has just falsely accused Huawei to have spy on others with 5G and blamed Chinese to have hacked Microsoft. Today, the US has openly admitted that US intelligence agencies had hacked a big database of China. Just look at the US manipulation of public opinion, we should see clearly how ‘fake news’ is fabricated to mislead the whole world even in this emergence state when over 3 million people are died of the Covid-2019. The US divert attention to China serves nothing but to kill more people, particularly the vulnerable ones: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/05/politics/covid-origins-genetic-data-wuhan-lab/index.html

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