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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20 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    George

    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
    Maria

    The mainstream media tell a lot a fake news

  3. avatar
    Jan

    ‘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
    Manuel

    no way
    fake news, make money roll

  5. avatar
    jthk

    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
      Jan

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

  6. avatar
    Julia

    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
    Tom

    No, i believe everything Donald Trump says. Believe me

  8. avatar
    Tamzin

    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
    Alfredo

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

  10. avatar
    Tommaso

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

  11. avatar
    Tamzin

    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
    Olivier

    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
    Julia

    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.

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