Fake news can be harmful in that it leads readers to believe things or events which are inaccurate. BBC News has stated it is one of the Grand Challenges that define our age (BBC News, 2017).
As a consumer of information, your time, attention, and even your action of clicking open a link is a valuable commodity. Websites glean money from advertisers based on the number of views, likes, clicks, etc. Both legitimate and hoax news sites have a stake in trying to get your attention, but reliable news outlets also have journalistic and editorial standards that (usually) keep them from resorting to click bait or outright emotional manipulation. Their primary purpose is to provide factual information to readers. Hoax news sites and many hyper-partisan news sites have fewer scruples.
"Fake news is not a humorous comment on the news. Rather, fake news seeks to supplant the news, to sway its audience into believing all sorts of untruths and conspiracy theories, the more bizarre, the better."
-- Leonard Pitts, "Newspapers, the Answer to Fake News," Baltimore Sun (1 December 2016)
Generation Z tends to be adept at most things digital. But several recent surveys and studies show that today's students have an alarming lack of news literacy. More than 80 percent of middle school students couldn't tell the difference between real news stories and ads that look like news, a 2016 study by Stanford researchers concluded.
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