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The Globalization of 'Fake News'

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If 2016 was the year of fake news, 2017 has been the year that real news became labeled as fake.

The former – which included the political propaganda and hoaxes originating from Russia and elsewhere that spread like rapid-fire on social media – was at the center of the national discourse during the U.S. presidential campaign. It's still very much at play, with conversations increasingly focused on the role of social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook in moderating content and removing fake news from their platforms.

The latter – a political tactic to dismiss unfavorable news coverage as untruthful or dishonest reporting – is the kind of strategy that has dominated 2017, led by President Donald Trump. The phrase "fake news" is his favorite media rebuke, and his favorite targets include "Failing New York Times," "Amazon Washington Post" and "Fake News CNN."

The president has tweeted or retweeted posts about "fake news" or "fake media" 176 times this year as of Dec. 20, according to an online archive of all of Trump's tweets.

But the "fake news" rhetoric has now extended beyond Trump to other world leaders. This increasing anti-media sentiment “increases the risk of threats and violence against journalists, undermines public trust and confidence in journalism as a public watchdog, and may mislead the public by blurring the lines between disinformation and media products containing independently verifiable facts,” the United Nations and other watchdog groups said in March.

This map traces the global spread of "fake news" as a defense against negative press coverage in 2017.


Gaby Galvin is a staff writer at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter and email her at ggalvin@usnews.com.

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