IATE Term of the Week: fake news


Nowadays, the impact of the mass media is extremely important as news is spread all over the world in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Information is the main weapon in our world, and whoever owns the information, owns the world. News, as just received or significant information about recent events, has a power to influence people’s attitudes and beliefs, and to promote social movements in public. Thus, journalists as people who create news, have a great impact on the society, highlighting different events in political, economic, cultural, social, fashion and other spheres.

This potential power of mass media calls for a vote of confidence about news and reports, especially as the problem of fake news reaches its crucial point in the society. Therefore, the term fake news has been chosen as this week’s IATE Term of the Week.

headline of a newspaper

In its traditional meaning, fake news is fabricated news stories, which appeals to real figures or events but have no trustable facts. The phenomenon of fake news appeared even in the ancient history and has been developing during human history until contemporary times. Nowadays, this kind of news is mostly spread via fake news sites, e-mails and social media, attracting readers’ attention through flashy headlines, and through significant members in political or cultural life. There are several purposes for the usage of fake news – the most neutral and harmless one is satire or parody. Another commercial purpose is to increase the amount of clicks and web-page sharing. However, nowadays the most prevalent purpose of fake news is propaganda and manipulation of public opinion. In this case, the content of the news is based on false information and evokes social resonance in the community. Fake news created for propaganda purpose is a dangerous weapon in constructing public opinion towards important political, cultural, and social events and figures. The recent example of how influential fake news can be is its impact on the USA presidential election last year, where fake news manipulated electorate audience attitude and affected its result.

IATE defines fake news as fabricated news stories with the deliberate aim of fooling readers.

Here you can see the entry for fake news in IATE:

IATE-entry for fake news

Therefore, the problem of confidence of social media news equally attracts public and professional communities, demanding a high quality of journalism and literacy of mass media.  This phenomenon has caused the EU members and the European Commission to pay attention to this topic and discuss “political and legal challenges,” connected with the problem of fake news, at the coming conference, which will take place on the 6th September in Brussels (more here).

[su_note note_color=”#dcea0f”][su_button url=”http://termcoord.eu/contribute-to-iate/” style=”flat”]Contribute to IATE![/su_button] We would appreciate your contribution to update this term in your language. An IATE terminologist of the relevant language will be in charge of the validation of contributions and, thus, a delay is to be expected.[/su_note]

IATE definition of fake news - a newspaper and a stamp "fake"

We suggest that you check some previous IATE Terms of the Week that relate to the environment:

We also encourage you to check related glossaries through our Glossary Links tool and through our recently-updated EU Glossaries‘ list!

Enjoy terminology learning and have a nice weekend!

Written by Elena Sychkova – Study visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit and a student of the Master programme in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. Elena has a Master’s degree in the Russian language and Literature, and Bachelor’ degree in English Philology.


  • The European Federation of Journalists (2017) Social media trusted twice less than news media, shows the 2017 Digital News Report. Available at: http://bit.ly/2ull6fH (Accessed 31 August 2017)
  • The European Federation of Journalists (2017) European Parliament discusses democracy and challenges in journalism. Available at: http://bit.ly/2vxBgba (Accessed 31 August 2017)
  • The European Federation of Journalists (2017) How to deal with fake news? Debate in European Parliament. Available at: http://bit.ly/2lB9Rjp (Accessed 31 August 2017)
  • European Commission (2017) DIFFERENCE DAY – ‘The Truth about Fake News’. Available at: http://bit.ly/2vLAjZI (Accessed 31 August 2017)
  • European Commission (2017) EU funding to tackle the problem of fake news. Available at: http://bit.ly/2goRl8p (Accessed 31 August 2017)