"Fake news website"

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Concept.png "Fake news website"
Interest ofPropOrNot
"Fake news website" is a meme started after the 2016 US election, to disparage websites that dissent from the opinions expressed by commercially-controlled media. It backfired and lead to the phrase "fake news", which promoted scepticism about corporate media and discouraged uncritical belief in their output.

The phrase "fake news website" was launched just after the 2016 US presidential election as a response to declining faith in the commercially-controlled media. However, the campaign went wrong, leading to the phrase "fake news" becoming popularised, which further encouraged critical thinking. Confidence in corporate media has continued to decline.

Official narrative

On 15 November 2016, a week after the 2016 US presidential election, Wikipedia user jfhutson started a page entitled "Fake news website".[1] Many commercially-controlled media outlets also started to echo the idea that the internet was full or Russian propaganda, and that this had influenced the outcome of the election. They have lead to calls that information on the internet should be checked for validity by expert "fact checkers", to avoid misleading people. The shorter phrase "fake news" caught on as a popular insult.


News travels fast between communication media, so websites, television, newspapers constantly draw from and cite one another - so the claim that websites should be particularly suspect is on its face rather a dubious one. Any website that only published incorrect stories would hardly be effective at deceit, so one is logically left with the assert that websites can deceive by mixing lies with truth — no different in fact from old media.

"Fake news"

Full article: Fake news

The shorter phrase "fake news" caught on, becoming Macquarie Dictionary's "word[sic.] of the year" for 2016.[2] A Wikipedia page for "fake news" was created on 15 January 2017.[3] In an article which applied the phrase in the context of KGB cold war propaganda, the BBC admitted (on the 1st April, 2017) that "the term fake news has taken on many meanings."[4]

Deep political significance

Wikispooks was included on Propornot's list of 200 Russian propaganda outlets cited by a Washington Post article published under the name of "Craig Timberg".[5] The article uncritically echoed the claims of this anonymous group, which stated on its website that it was "an independent team of concerned American citizens". It was widely criticised online,[6] prompting not a retraction, but the addition of a disclaimer by the Washington Post.[7]

Legal Significance

On 8 December 2016, Barack Obama signed the NDAA 2017 into law, which purported to legalize broad spectrum internet censorship. 21st Century Wire summarized the act by stating that “long before “fake news” became a major media topic, the US government was already planning its legally-backed crackdown on anything it would eventually label “fake news".” [8]

In California in March 2017 law which the EFF wryly observed was "a censorship bill so obviously unconstitutional, we had to double check that it was real" was proposed to make it a crime to distribute fake news over the world wide web.[9]


The "Fake News website" campaign appears to be aimed at dissident websites and has, together with other memes such as "hate speech" been used to try to justify increased internet censorship. On 24 November 2016, Michel Chossudovsky opined that “The mainstream corporate media is desperate. They want to suppress independent and alternative online media, which it categorizes as “fake news”. Readers on social media are warned not to go onto certain sites. The intent of this initiative is to smear honest reporting and Truth in Media. Our analysis confirms that the mainstream media are routinely involved in distorting the facts and turning realities upside down. They are the unspoken architects of “Fake News”.” [10]


Wikipedia uses the term to describe websites that challenge the Official narrative.

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