‘Fake news’ term not to be used lightly

I have, in recent weeks, come across the term “fake news” when people want to express their concern with an element in a story or column.

This term has caught on and is being used as a tool to denigrate other people’s communication.

It is often used inappropriately.

The term was popularized by U.S. President Donald Trump when he wanted to dispute media reports. That Trump has become one of the most prolific generators of information that has proven to be false must be taken into account when we decide whether we want to accept his vocabulary.

Fake news is a communication — not information (it’s false) — created in an attempt to fool people into believing or supporting something.

For example, we saw earlier this week in a report to the U.S. Senate intelligence committee how a Russian misinformation campaign set about publishing misleading information on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to steer voters toward supporting Trump.

Fake news is a conscious decision to employ misinformation to deliberately mislead people.

It is not an error. It is not disagreeable information. It is not an opinion that someone might perceive as wrong.

Nor is it a term that should be used to point out that a story has an error in it. For that, we have corrections. (I shall write my own ode to the correction in a future column.)

Fake news aspires to be propaganda but doesn’t even reach that low bar.

Trump has used fake news, the real thing, to mischaracterize Canada and our trade relationship.

Why on Earth would we want to embrace his methods?

Canadians are thought to be generally agreeable people, but we are not submissive.

Canadians must not submit to a dishonest practice employed by a man who uses it as a weapon against us.

————-

Next week we will publish our popular annual Innovation edition, which features stories on new research and technologies in agriculture. We have dozens of stories set to go, including a look at high-powered bin monitoring, the use of holograms in agriculture and robot-raised lettuce.

We hope you’ll enjoy it.

About the author

Comments

explore

Stories from our other publications