An earlier version of this article appeared in History News Network, July 23, 2017, http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/166400 , and in The Huffington Post, July 25, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-we-can-learn-from-fake-news_us_597764e7e4b0940189700cd0
False facts provide clues about the stories that make the fakery seem true.
Fake news has both producers and consumers. Stories like the one about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump for president are eye catching, but fake news can really only generate much power when a lot of people believe it. Without that, it is just so much sputtering, and can even backfire on the perpetrators by smearing them with a reputation for dishonesty or for being just plain crazy. Continue reading