How the ‘Fake News’ Frenzy Threatens the Possibility of Dissent

In 2017, the term “fake news” was used 365 percent more often than in 2016, earning the award for “Word of the Year” by the Collins Dictionary. Yet, fake news remains one of those highly politicized terms that gain popularity in the public discourse, while few agree on what it really means. Indeed, the term is often used to refer to both deliberately fabricated news and inaccurate or incorrect information, going beyond content that can be considered illegal according to the limitations placed upon freedom of expression in human rights law, such as propaganda for war and incitement to hostility and violence. In the public discourse, fake news is often a catch-all term, used to smear opposing points of view: Trump accuses well-established American media such as CNN of fabricating fake news about him, while his opponents blame fake news spread on social media, and possibly pushed by external powers, for his election victory.


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