UK Government Screws Head On Straight, Bans Use Of Term 'Fake News' By Gov't Officials

from the stopped-clock-governance dept

A government has decided to handle "fake news" in about the only way it should be handled. FINALLY. While most governments appear willing to treat "fake news" legislation as a gateway drug to censorship, the UK government -- a government that certainly isn't known for its rational handling of speech issues -- is going the other way.

It's a decision that treats the term with all the respect it deserves: none.

The government has banned the term “fake news” after urging ministers to use “misinformation” or "disinformation" instead.

The phrase - a favourite of US President Donald Trump - will no longer appear in policy documents or official papers because it is “a poorly-defined and misleading term that conflates a variety of false information, from genuine error through to foreign interference in democratic processes,” officials said.

This is a shocking development. While some government figures have recognized the term is divisive and generally means nothing more than "stuff I don't like," most have felt compelled to do something about it. A lot of this "something" has presented itself as pressure applied to social media platforms. For other governments with a more authoritarian bent, the term has proven to be a handy way to directly control new agencies and third-party content posted to social media services.

The UK's clearheaded stance isn't likely to be adopted by others. It returns too much control to citizens and strips the term of its power. But this is the way governments should approach the loaded term: by first admitting they have a problem. A nebulous term that acts as a partisan dog whistle should be eliminated from governments' vocabulary. As is suggested here, it should be replaced with clearly defined terms far less likely to be abused by politicians looking to score easy points in front of the home team crowd.

“We recommend that the Government rejects the term ‘fake news’, and instead puts forward an agreed definition of the words ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’. With such a shared definition, and clear guidelines for companies, organisations, and the Government to follow, there will be a shared consistency of meaning across the platforms, which can be used as the basis of regulation and enforcement,” [the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee] stated.

This is a remarkable turnaround, considering only a few months ago DCMS members were going after Facebook for contributing to the "fake news that threatens our democracy." Included in this package of adopted recommendations is (surprise!) the abandonment of a social media tax targeting Facebook and Twitter -- two companies routinely blamed for the incredible amount of stupidity and misleading content posted by their users.

Some sanity has prevailed somewhere in the world. Let's try to enjoy that.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:08am

    "This is a shocking development."
    I can't agree to this.

    I can't imagine any world leader emulating the fucktard residing in the White House, and failing to use "fake news" is a great start to separating them from that idiot whose fingers can't seem to stop tweeting anti-American (democracy) statements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      Oh piss off. The media lies all the time and deserves to be called Fake News. A perfect example was CNN last night during the Presidents rally in Wisconsin.

      Trump is still following through on all of his campaign promises and doing what I voted him into office to do.

      As far as I’m concerned, despite his lack of articulation, he’s doing a fantastic job.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:18am

        Re: Re:

        "As far as I’m concerned, **due** his lack of **intelligence**, he’s doing a **shitty** job."

        FTFY

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:28am

        Re: Re:

        "A perfect example was CNN last night during the Presidents rally in Wisconsin. "

        I wonder, did you actually see that coverage, or are you just taking someone's word for it that they did something wrong? The same source that tells you trump is keeping his promises, perhaps?

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        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "the media like CNN lies all the time"
          "Trump is following through on his campaign promises"

          Since both those claims are false, then gee, what's the name for sources that spread that kind of stuff?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            CNN LIES all the, and Trump is doing what he said he was going to do. Those are FACTS!!!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If they are facts, please present the evidence that supports their factual basis.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                It’s how they spin everything. That’s the biggest issue. They spin what he says so that it has a different meaning

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:48am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  This is an assertion. I requested evidence.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 11:00am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    What capitalising RANDOM words isn’t equivalent to fact based evidence?!?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Chip, 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:20pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      NO! You Also "need" to put Random WORDS in "quotation" Marks!

                      Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deserves!

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Wendy Cockcroft, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:38am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    You won't receive it.

                    Is Hillary Clinton free? Why, yes she is.
                    What about the wall? Mexico ain't gonna pay for it. If it gets built at all, Americans will.

                    What about ring-fencing healthcare provisions in Medicare and Medicaid? LOL!

                    So... about those promises...

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Here's a few more facts for ya ...

              1) Donald does not speak the truth ( I can not technically call it lying because I doubt he is aware of the fact).
              2) Rudy says the truth is not the truth
              3) Donald contradicts himself almost on a continuous basis
              4) The people are getting sick and tired of it

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Baron von Robber, 25 Oct 2018 @ 10:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Where is my healthcare coverage for everybody, more affordable and better?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:40am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You'll find out in 2020, at which point you will hopefully have got rid of the Tangerine Nightmare and replaced him with somebody sane. At this point, Medicare for all will hopefully be enacted.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I did see the coverage live during the rally and following. CNN is fake news

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re:

        After his call for "civility", how long did it take before he again attempted to stir the pot and get his followers to be uncivil ....

        One hour.

        Is that the duration of his attention span?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:07am

        Re: Re:

        As far as I’m concerned, despite his lack of articulation, he’s doing a fantastic job.

        Do you know how to get perspective on the "job" he's doing? Step outside the situation and the partisan politics and take a good look from a distance.

        The view from 3,500 miles away is that watching the US being "led" by a man who makes Nigel Farage look like a reasoned, broad, cosmopolitan and empathic thinker by comparison would be utterly hilarious if it weren't so damn dangerous for the entire rest of the world to have such a self-evidently (and self-confessedly) horror of a (barely) human being in such an apparently un-checkable and critical position.

        Just so you know...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re:

        An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition. It isn't just contradiction.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        stderric (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re:

        As far as I’m concerned, despite his lack of articulation, he’s doing a fantastic job.

        I can't go so far as to say "fantastic", but I gotta agree that Trump's doing a pretty good job. After all, he hasn't vivisected any kittens during a televised press conference, which means he's doing better than I expected.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 25 Oct 2018 @ 3:17pm

        Re: Trump is still following through on all of his campaign prom

        So how’s the old “repeal and replace” going, then?

        “It’s going to be so easy...”

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 5:49am

        Re: Re:

        Language peeve:

        In the term "fake news", the word "news" is not short for "news media". It refers to (some subset of) the actual stories and reporting which the news media provides.

        CNN is not news. CNN is part of the news media; in particular, it is a news organization, and also a cable TV network. None of those things are news itself.

        Since CNN is not news, CNN cannot possibly be "fake news".

        You could argue that what CNN reports is "fake news", but CNN itself is not and cannot be "fake news", because the thing called "CNN" is not an instance of the category called "news".

        That's not something specific to CNN, mind you; exactly the same things are true of Fox News.

        Donald Trump has been perverting the language by misusing the word "news" in this context ever since his first (public) use of the phrase "fake news", and it's well past time people stopped letting that pass without comment.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:34am

    Regardless of your political affiliation ... banning the use of a the term “fake news” is a step in the wrong direction. The way you combat a political movement is not by banning the oppositions slogans but instread by crafting an effective message and slogan of your own.

    Disappointing.

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    • identicon
      Call me Al, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:51am

      Re:

      I think you are misunderstanding this.

      They haven't banned the term fake news nationwide. Their opponents can still use it.

      They have banned the use by their own side, i.e. the government itself.

      This is not censorship of the country. This is the government choosing the language they would prefer to be used.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:27am

      Re:

      "The way you combat a political movement is not by banning the oppositions slogans but instread by crafting an effective message and slogan of your own."

      Indeed. One way of doing this is to tell people to stop using terminology in official communications that are "poorly-defined and misleading (and) conflates a variety of false information", and instead used standardised terminology with agreed upon definitions. Which is what they're doing?

      Would you rather official government documents contain phrases that are misleading and routinely used to deliver false information? I don't see the problem here, so long as the same standards are applied should such idiocy appear elsewhere on the political spectrum.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:40am

        Re: Re:

        Apparently the OP and a diminishing quantity of others are not trying to be civil when they call for civility.

        They want everyone else to be civil towards them while they continue their attacks unabated. We have been witness to this childish behavior many times now, let's try it one more time because the results might be different - not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        HL5, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:43am

        Re: misleading

        ...Oh really (?)-- and the specified 'acceptable' terms “misinformation” & "disinformation" are NOT "poorly defined" ?? Everybody defines, uses, and understands those 2 words in exactly the same way?

        Dictating "proper" words and speech is a fool's game at best ... and more commonly a villain's craft.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:38am

          Re: Re: misleading

          Everybody defines, uses, and understands those 2 words in exactly the same way?

          That is called a perfect solution fallacy. You suggest that because the preferred words do not have 100% unambiguous and universally agreed upon definitions, that we should give up and just use any word, no matter how misleading or vague. This is of course ridiculous because while probably very few if any words in English are identically understood by everyone, that does not mean they are all equally well suited for a particular task.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:05am

            Re: Re: Re: misleading

            "This is of course ridiculous because while probably very few if any words in English are identically understood by everyone, that does not mean they are all equally well suited for a particular task."

            With the above in mind, some people try to communicate with each other in a manner in which they can understand such differences and make adjustments/corrections in order to better communicate rather than simply flinging insults while assuming others are arguing against their pov. I think this characteristic is one of many that define differences between human beings and animals. Some act like humans and others act like animals.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 8:12am

          Re: Re: misleading

          "Everybody defines, uses, and understands those 2 words in exactly the same way? "

          They certainly should if they are communicating official documents. Doubly so if these are government and not corporate documents. Every professional environment has guidelines on how to communicate, some loose, some very much not. I would hope the government has the same kind of rules when dictating policy as my company does when dictating the language that should be used in public relations documents.

          What, specifically, is strange or wrong about that? If you want freedom to interpret things the way you want to, do it on your own time.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      HL5, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:28am

      Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

      +1

      banning your political opponent's peaceful slogans/speech is a really really bad idea and grossly anti-democratic.

      Shocking how many people here instantly love the idea.

      Plus, Fake-News is an accurate, easily understood, and useful term for standard old terms like propaganda &agitprop.

      BEWARE of people who want to control and define "acceptable" speech -- they are authoritarians in their basic worldview.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:37am

        Re: Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

        Accurate and easily understood, is it? Please advise how accurately it is being used in current conversation. Show your work - not just Trump's usage, but everyone's usage. I want evidence that it is actually being used to described fabricated stories and actual propaganda.

        Aside from that, this isn't a banning of the term being used by people in general. The citizens of the UK are allowed to use it as much and as idiotically as they please.

        This is a ban on using it in policy documents. In other words, government officials, in the course of performing governmental duties, are advised by the government not to use the term "Fake News" due to concerns over the current misuse of the term and the confusion that arises from it, and provides more clearly-defined terms for official usage.

        So, no, this isn't censorship, because the term is not banned to the general public, and nothing I'm seeing indicates that government employees can't use it in their personal lives. Just not while executing their duties.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          HL5, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

          geez. the term 'censorship' does not require the immediate involvement of an entire national population. Official censorship has to start somewhere -- a government could censor only one person... and it would still be censorship.

          The UK government is trying to change the social culture with small steps. (see "Cultural Marxism")

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

            So, based on this, you appear to believe that the government should never exert editorial control over the language in its policy documents? Is that correct?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

            Your prior post did not even allude to your now claimed stance on who exactly is being "censored".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:42am

        Re: Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

        "BEWARE of people who want to control and define "acceptable" speech -- they are authoritarians in their basic worldview."

        You have described Trump and friends - congrats!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:40am

        Re: Re: Yay! -- Government Censorship

        banning your political opponent's peaceful slogans/speech

        I wonder what the overlap is between people who have completely misunderstood this story and Trump supporters.

        Plus, Fake-News is an accurate, easily understood, and useful term

        Probably pretty high.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      There's so much FAKE news being thrown out by the mainstream media. Been nothing but lies. They should get called out on it.

      I don't think there should be any laws banning so-called fake news because anything could be deemed fake news depending on anyone's views. Besides being a free speech thing. Of course in the UK, they don't have our constitution. So banning so-called Fake News seems like something else dumb they'll try doing there in the UK.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:11am

        Re: Re:

        "There's so much FAKE news being thrown out by the mainstream media. Been nothing but lies."

        Nothing?

        I watched the weather the other day and they said it was going to rain ... guess what - it rained!

        But they were lying weren't they?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:10pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's a pretty specious argument, and focussing on the use of the word "nothing" is disingenuous.

          Reality is that media, nearly all media, fails to report news and instead reports theory, innuendo, rumors and speculation. All of it heavily politically biased. As long as you avoid learning all of the available facts you can take one or two small bits of info and twist it to mean whatever you want. Most viewers/readers are too lazy to learn for themselves and swallow whatever the media wants to feed them.

          If you treat all news as fake but based one some grain of truth, read/view multiple sources from any or all sides of the isle, you can glean the reality of the situation. But that takes critical thinking just as grasping this comment does.

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          • icon
            Thad (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That's a pretty specious argument, and focussing on the use of the word "nothing" is disingenuous.

            Unlike claiming "There's so much FAKE news being thrown out by the mainstream media. Been nothing but lies" without citing one single example. That's just sound reasoning.

            Reality is that media, nearly all media, fails to report news and instead reports theory, innuendo, rumors and speculation. All of it heavily politically biased.

            Say, you didn't provide any examples either.

            But that takes critical thinking just as grasping this comment does.

            Is that you, Chip?

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            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 1:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But that takes critical thinking just as grasping this comment does.

              The problem is that it's his critics who grasp his comments with their critical thinking to a far greater degree than he could ever hope to.

              That's a pretty specious argument, and focussing on the use of the word "nothing" is disingenuous.

              Nothing disingenous about the simple task of using a single disproving example to destroy some moron's absolute claim. It's just how things work in the non-Sith real world.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Thad (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 2:18pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Nothing disingenous about the simple task of using a single disproving example to destroy some moron's absolute claim.

                Eh, "nothing but" was clearly intended as hyperbole. If he had actually written some kind of cogent argument, and then the other guy had replied and only responded with a smartass response about the "nothing but" line, then that would have been disingenuous.

                However, given that the post claimed "nothing but lies" and then cited not one single example of a lie, I think pouncing on the hyperbole was a completely reasonable response.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 1:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I would bet real money that you thought your arguement was quite clever. I would also make a follow up bet that you looked up the words specious and disingenuous.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re:

        This does not ban the usage of the term by the general public. This bans of the usage of the term by the government, especially in policy documents, due to concerns over it being poorly defined and therefore ill-suited for usage in policy documents or government business.

        This isn't even law, and it doesn't apply to verbal speech by ministers. From the telegraph article linked in the techdirt article:

        "While ministers may speak freely in the House of Commons, any strategy documents referring to election meddling or internet safety will need to use the new definition. "

        This is the government deciding that it won't use the term in documentation. So - how is this censorship?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:41am

    dont worry, as has happened before, some group or other will complain and this sensibleness will go out the window! no government, least of all the one in the UK, is known for having sense! the last time it showed any was when the new copyright law came into play. that lasted about 5minutes because one of the copyright industries was going to lose about 5c a year and couldnt bear it!!

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  • identicon
    ryuugami, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:53am

    Singlespeak

    The phrase (...) is “a poorly-defined and misleading term that conflates a variety of false information, from genuine error through to foreign interference in democratic processes,” officials said.

    Halle-fucking-lujah. Thank you, UK officials. These last couple of years, I was shocked and dismayed to discover how many people fail to distinguish between "deliberate lie" and "honest mistake". I mean, one of those idiots already reared their ugly head up there in another thread, FFS.

    "Fake news" should be used to describe exclusively The Daily Show, The Onion, and similar satirical "news".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:19am

      Re: Singlespeak

      ...IIRC the Daily Show reported on actual events with a satirical or comedic bent, as opposed to making up news stories. The show itself was more along the lines of news entertainment - though there might have been some actual "fake news" segments, with made-up stories. I haven't watched it in a while.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re: Singlespeak

        Jon Stewart himself referred to it as the fake news (before Trump co-opted the term) not because they disseminated false information (they don't) but because it's a show that pretends to be a news show but isn't.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:15am

    I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

    Sooo we can't say "fake news", but we can still lie?
    OK, call it "misinformation", "disinformation", "fake news", or whatever. Lying can be punished, but it can't be abolished or done away with or else the 10 Commandments would have done so--but it's impossible to keep the 10. Those commandments were give to show man that we are incapable of perfection, and that we need the Grace of God: namely Jesus Christ.

    Man has free will, thus, man lies (Christian's too). It's impossible for people not to lie because we're born with the propensity to lie, and sin in general. Notice, no one has to teach children how to lie (just how to lie convincingly).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:24am

      Re: I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

      Why are you hoping this is sarcasm? As a Christian myself, I applaud the UK Government in this instance of sanity in deciding not to use a term that can be dramatically interpreted to mean whatever you want. It's a step in a correct direction, so why would anyone dismiss this attempt to do the right thing?

      What is it, in specific, that you are suggesting be done or exhorted here? Are you suggesting that we not attempt to uphold the law? The book of Romans has some things to say about that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:44am

        Re: Re: I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

        I'm just suggesting that calling "fake news" -- "misinformation" instead, is just sugar coating the issue. What's the difference? 'Lying' is 'Lieing'.
        Furthermore, forbidding people from using a trendy term or statement, that won't be around forever anyway, is merely censorship. Doesn't the UK have enough camera's already?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:00am

          Re: Re: Re: I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

          The government is not forbidding the general public to use the term. They are banning its use in policy documents. I see no problem with this. It's not censorship. It's the government vetoing the use of a "trendy term" with serious issues around the interpretation of its meaning in the course of the execution of its duties, and inclusion in documents or regulations that will far outlast the use of the term itself, in the event that it does eventually fall out of favor.

          Additionally, there is a difference in the connotations of "Fake news" and "misinformation/disinformation," purely in the usage of the word "news" in the term.

          Fake news can and often does have all sorts of implications towards news in general, casting suspicion on the veracity of any group or person, regardless of track record. If you want to engage in that in your personal life, go ahead, no one is stopping you. The UK government is still not stopping you if you live in the UK.

          But that kind of language has no place in government policy documents. Usage of it by government officials in the execution of government duties makes me leery because of it being so easy to link that usage to governmental oppression of free press.

          Misinformation and disinformation, on the other hand, are not at their core tied to the press. Misinformation can be spread by literally anyone, not just journalists or those masquerading at journalists. As a term that lacks problematic connotations, it is far superior for usage in official policy or the execution of governmental duties.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

            connotations, denotations, implications...
            PEOPLE LIE, and forbidding the use of "Fake News" or any such vague term will not stop people from lying. This is just the beginning of a slippery slope of censorship.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

              Of course it won't stop people from lying. That's not the point of the move.

              The point of the move is so that the Government does not use a term with problematic connotations, unclear interpretations, and a recent history of being abused in partisan politics in their policies and in the execution of their duties - exactly the realms in which being clear in what you mean is critically important.

              Is the government not supposed to exert editorial control over their communications and policies to ensure clarity of meaning?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Talmyr, 26 Oct 2018 @ 2:02am

          Re: Re: Re: I hope this is sarcasm, Mike

          1) It's the government 'censoring' itself. Not the public. Read better.

          2) Except it's not censoring itself, it's simply making sure people clarify which of two terms it means. And no, they are not equal or equivalent - there is a huge difference between making a mistake or phrasing something badly and reporting that as truth (which tends to lead to retractions and corrections), and outright lying (which a fact check can often verify).

          So it makes sense to clarify things further, especially to stop the "fake news is anything I don't like" brigade.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:39am

    I can't believe...

    ...THIS site is cheering on the banning of a phrase.

    Rah-rah! Doubleplusgoodquackspeak!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:44am

      Re: I can't believe...

      We are cheering a government for deciding not to engage in the usage of a problematic term in policy documents.

      This is not a general ban on use of the term by everyone. This is ban on using it in the execution of governmental duties due to concerns over its interpretation.

      This is not censorship. This is a government deciding to be intelligent with their policy language. Of course this will be cheered - a decision of this nature will help dispense with attempts to poorly regulate a problem that can't be fixed the way people think it can be fixed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:14am

        Re: Re: I can't believe...

        Utter nonsense. The phrase is being banned because trump uses it, frequently.

        Read the article:

        "The government has banned the term “fake news” after urging ministers to use “misinformation” or "disinformation" instead.

        The phrase - a favourite of US President Donald Trump - will no longer appear in policy documents or official papers because it is “a poorly-defined"

        It's "poorly-defined"? The preceding paragraph DEFINES it as misinformation and/or disinformation.

        If you want to ban WRONGLY "defined" words start with all the idiots using "optics" when they mean "appearances", and "decimated" when they mean "devastated".

        "Fake News" is simply "propaganda by established 'news' sources".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:44am

          Re: Re: Re: I can't believe...

          Not the way Trump uses it. That's certainly what it should mean, but the current social conversations use the term to mean "stuff I don't like regardless of it's veracity."

          So, in light of the term being co-opted by Trump and others, including those who don't like Trump, and its current usage being wildly inconsistent with its actual meaning, it has no place in policy documentation.

          There is no point in using a charged term like Fake News when a better defined and unproblematic term can serve the same purpose in a better fashion.

          Avoiding the use of "Fake news" in policy documents also avoids any implication of the government attempting to abridge the freedoms of the press, so honestly, it probably shouldn't be used by government officials to begin with.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:46am

      Re: I can't believe...

      Amen! This has to be a sarcasm, early April Fools piece or something.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:02am

        Re: Re: I can't believe...

        We are cheering a government for deciding not to engage in the usage of a problematic term in policy documents.

        This is not a general ban on use of the term by everyone. This is ban on using it in the execution of governmental duties due to concerns over its interpretation.

        This is not censorship. This is a government deciding to be intelligent with their policy language. Of course this will be cheered - a decision of this nature will help dispense with attempts to poorly regulate a problem that can't be fixed the way people think it can be fixed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:49am

    I thought one of the many functions of government, no matter which flavor, was the documentation of their policies, practices and procedures. The reasons for doing so are obvious, or at lest I thought so.

    In order to placate the thin skinned and reactionary pundits, most of whom do not even reside in the UK, I suppose the UK government could put said phrase in quotes rather than omitting it altogether. But I doubt that will stop attempts to maintain the ongoing state of bullshittery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zof (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 6:54am

    Just call it was it was originally called.

    Yellow Journalism. Google it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Zof (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 7:03am

      Re: Just call it was it was originally called.

      1) scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
      2) lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
      3) use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
      4) dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

      1) check
      2) check: (the least flattering photo contest)
      3) check: typically misleading headlines and fake experts
      4) check: pretending their rich sociopath 1 percenters are somehow better than the other side's.

      This is easily 95 percent of all news during one of the Yellow Journalism outbreaks (fake controversies)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:23am

    Fake news is protected speech under the first amendment ... Just saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      A) This is the UK. They don't have the First Amendment, they have different things, the details of which I am not aware of.

      B) This is a ban on the usage of the term in policy documentation.

      From the Telegraph article linked in the Techdirt article:

      "While ministers may speak freely in the House of Commons, any strategy documents referring to election meddling or internet safety will need to use the new definition."

      It boils down to an editorial decision on what verbiage is appropriate to use in government documentation, based on concerns over the lack of clear definition of the term "fake news" and the existence of better verbiage.

      Even were this the US, this type of action would not violate the first amendment. It abridges nobody's freedom of expression, because government employees would still be able to say "fake news" all they want outside of official policy documents.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:49am

        Gotta ask...

        ...I just did half a dozen google searches all with no relevant hits.

        What OTHER phrases have been editorially banned in such manner from such documents in Great Britain?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 10:13am

          Re: Gotta ask...

          No idea, as I don't live in the UK and am not privy to UK government documentation.

          I'm not surprised that Google found nothing - other such editorial decisions are unlikely to make the news, and those types of documents are rarely, if ever, published to places a search engine can find - corporate world tends to do the same, with internal documentation of that nature not out on the public web. It's a question that is best asked of the UK government directly.

          I speculate that editorial guidelines would additionally prohibit the use of derogatory language, such as the various pejorative terms that exist for people of various ethnic descents, as an example.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          ryuugami, 25 Oct 2018 @ 9:11pm

          Re: Gotta ask...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Talmyr, 26 Oct 2018 @ 2:09am

          Re: Gotta ask...

          This from the country which has states banning even discussion of global warming in policy documents, not just mentioning it. Plank, meet mote. And may the Carolinas and Florida get the storm surges they deserve.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      Lying is protected speech, fraud is not, and the line between them is not entirely clear. I imagine there are many who have made this a profitable conundrum.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:08pm

    For all the BS..

    For all the words that mean the same thing..
    Saying it HOW it is, means nothing IF you dont fix it.

    Its the same concept as taking a Corp to court, and no one goes to jail.

    Both side and everyone has seen..The 1 side/group makes a BAD ADVERT and PAYS for it to be broadcast..(YES ITS AN ADVERT)

    They can say/do anything, and even Fake the information and videos..Show the person thing, animal, in any position you want..
    (How many Christian channels do we Need, reading the bible and Screaming at us to tell us WHAT CHRIST DID/DIDNT DO??)

    That LAW we had about EQUAL TIME for politicians...was fun, as EVEN THE LITTLE PARTIES had access to the TV..NOW, they have to PAY as much as the BIG parties to place an ADVERT..

    How do you fight something that was Set on TV, and try to find the people WHO said it..? HOW do you get a retraction?
    Then you take it to court and SEE who the Judge believes in the next 6-12 months..

    How to Prove TRUTH?? and even if you can PROVE it, They can take you to court, and COST you TONS OF MONEY and TIME..
    This is the Lawyers game..No logic needed..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    takitus (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 10:37pm

    Not censoring the public

    It seems that many commentators had some difficulty understanding this article. The UK government is not banning British citizens from using the phrase, but only its own members. Since governments—including, as Tim points out, some of the worst regimes on the planet—have been the worst abusers of the term “fake news”, this is indeed a good move.

    Stopping government officials from muddying the waters with garbage phrases like this is, I think, a net positive for free speech. Consider the (first) US Red Scare: if the McCarthy-era government had required officials to use the word “communist” to refer to those and only those people proved to members of the Communist party, would things have been a bit more sane? Quite possibly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Talmyr, 26 Oct 2018 @ 2:10am

      Re: Not censoring the public

      Articles like this are great for flushing out those with poor reading comprehension. Or those who use phrases like "fake news" as a partisan, emotional crutch.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:51am

      Re: Not censoring the public

      It seems that many commentators had some difficulty understanding this article.

      Or even the article's title.

      I guess once they saw "Bans Use Of Term 'Fake News'" in the title, their veins bulged, their vision clouded, they started frothing at the mouth, screaming obscenities at the screen, mashing the keyboard to announce to the world that this. Is. An. OUTRAGE. Hulk SMASH!

      Ergo, they never got as far as "By Gov't Officials".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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