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The Liquefaction of Publicness: Communication, Democracy and the Public Sphere in the Internet Age, Vol. 25 - 2018, No. 1

Researching Fake News: A Selective Examination of Empirical Studies

, pages: 248-255

The term “fake news” came to dominate public political discourse in late 2016 regarding possible efforts by Russian agents to manipulate the US Presidential election. A similar alarm was raised during subsequent European elections the following year. This widespread concern was twisted into an epithet by some political figures, particularly President Trump, to describe traditional news outlets. Eventually, the alarm and name-calling transformed into a serious topic for empirical research, and the initial fruits of that work are beginning to appear. This short article provides a panorama of the scholarship emerging around fake news and illustrates this work by examining in more detail two radically different studies. The article concludes with suggestions for extending this initial research. But first, some background is provided to set the stage.

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