Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you would have undoubtedly come across the term "fake news". But what is it all actually about?
So what are fake news websites?
These are websites that are intentionally set up to publish news stories that are actually incorrect. They use social media to great effect to broaden their reach, as people share the stories without realising that they are false.
Is it a problem?
In short: yes. There is a view that Donald Trump's shock victory in the US election was helped by fake news stories. An example of this was the story that Democratic senators wanted to impose sharia law in Florida, which even Trump's nominee for national security adviser Michael Flynn shared - at the time not realising that it was false. Buzzfeed found that fake news stories actually outperformed real news on Facebook in the last three months of the election, which is pretty terrifying. The top two fake news stories were: "Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for President, releases statement" and "WikiLeaks CONFIRMS Hillary sold weapons to ISIS...then drops another BOMBSHELL! Breaking news."
What is Facebook doing about the problem of fake news?
Facebook received a huge amount of criticism from people thinking it wasn't doing enough to combat the issue. In response, the social media site has unveiled a string of measures to ensure users are not presented with fake news on the site. Soon, users will be able to flag up stories they think are hoaxes, which can be sent to "third-party fact checking organisations" for review, Facebook says. If these groups also raise concerns about the piece's validity, an alert will appear underneath it warning the reader. False stories could also be bumped further down newsfeeds and will not be able to be made into adverts or promoted, Facebook said. But users will still have the ability to share such stories to their online friends.
What are some other examples of fake news stories?
In October of last year, millions of people watched a Facebook Live video claiming to be of a lightbulb being changed at the top of a 1,999ft tower. Posted on the Facebook pages for Interestinate and USA Viral it claimed to be a four-hour long live video - in fact, it was a loop of an 18 minute-long video that had already been filmed. Other stories range from the damaging: "President Obama confirms he will refuse to leave office if Trump is elected," to the ridiculous: "Florida man dies in meth-lab explosion after lighting farts on fire."
What can you do about fake news?
The rise of fake news means that you have to be ever-vigilant when reading content online. When reading a story, ask yourself whether you recognise the publisher, if it's been reported elsewhere, if it's fully backed up by evidence, or if it's a photograph, whether it could be of something else.