Out in the Open

What the heck IS fake news, anyway?

How one journalist defines fake news and is taking aim at it
Fake news isn't necessarily new, but in the digital era it has become harder and harder to discern fact from fiction. (Frederick Burr Opper/The Public Domain Review)
Listen4:29

Craig Silverman has a very specific definition of fake news. 

One, it has to be 100 per cent false. 

Two, the person who created it knows it's false. 

And three, that person is making money off it. 

"The term we've had for a long time is a hoax," said Craig, media editor at BuzzFeed News.  
Craig Silverman spends his days busting fake news websites and telling readers what's true and what's not. ( )

"Something that somebody just completely made up, where there's no political interpretation, there's no element of spin, they really just invented it in their head." 

Craig said propaganda is different; it's something that's not true, but created for political or ideological reasons. 

Craig spends his days busting fake news websites and telling BuzzFeed readers what is true and what is not. He tells Piya it's very easy for anyone to be fooled by fake news. 

"The more that you've already made up your mind about something … the more likely you are to refute any kind of information you see that goes against that."

"We're not rational beings." ​

Craig's job has also made him think differently about deception. 

"I think about 'Am I deceiving myself about X, Y and Z?' So I try to be hypersensitive to that and also hypersensitive to the biases I have, either ideological or otherwise."

He's also realised how easy it's become to make money deceiving people. 

Though propaganda has been around for a long time, "now we have an economic model for it, and that's kind of crazy," he says.