Defining Fake News

Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):197-215 (2021)
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Fake news is a worrying phenomenon which is growing increasingly widespread, partly because of the ease with which it is disseminated online. Combating the spread of fake news requires a clear understanding of the nature of fake news. However, the use of the term in everyday language is heterogenous and has no fixed meaning. Despite increasing philosophical attention to the topic, there is no consensus on the correct definition of “fake news” within philosophy either. This paper aims to bring clarity to the philosophical debate of fake news in two ways: Firstly, by providing an overview of existing philosophical definitions and secondly, by developing a new account of fake news. This paper will identify where there is agreement within the philosophical debate of definitions of “fake news” and isolate four key questions on which there is genuine disagreement. These concern the intentionality underlying fake news, its truth value, the question of whether fake news needs to reach a minimum audience, and the question of whether an account of fake news needs to be dynamic. By answering these four questions, I provide a novel account of defining “fake news”. This new definition hinges upon the fact that fake news has the function of being deliberately misleading about its own status as news.



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Glenn Anderau
University of Zürich

References found in this work

Stop Talking about Fake News!Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):1033-1065.
Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.Bernard Williams - 2002 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Fake News and Partisan Epistemology.Regina Rini - 2017 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 27 (S2):43-64.

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