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Facts Matter: Counteracting Fake News

What is Fake News?

fake news

There are many ways to define fake news. While some people dismiss as "fake news" any information that is unwelcome or unflattering to them, this guide will help you become a more discerning reader and viewer of news media.


BBC (2008) Flying Penguins. 31 March. Available at: (Accessed: 16 January 2024).

This obviously fake news clip appears to show film-maker and writer Terry Jones following a unique colony of Adelie Penguins as they fly thousands of miles across the frozen wasteland of Antarctica to the Amazon Rainforest.


It was shown on air on April Fools' Day 2008 in tandem with a viral campaign which was launched online to build awareness of BBC iPlayer amongst audiences.


David Bainbridge, BBC Head of Marketing Communications & Audiences for Future Media & Technology, said:

"The purpose of the April Fool campaign is to continue to raise awareness of BBC iPlayer, and bring to life the benefits of the service in a unique way."

Parody or Satire - assumes the appearance of news as a form of humour.

It is not the absolute truth, but can be used to ask questions about truths we are presented with, or pillories those who claim to be telling the truth.

BBC (2018) Should we just give up on climate change? - The Mash Report. 5 November. Available at: (Accessed: 16 January 2024).

This clip from The Mash Show gives an example of satirical television.

Misinformation - presents inaccurate or incomplete information for one or more of the following reasons:


newspaper images

Greenslade, R. (2016) 'Newspapers publish anti-immigration stories - but what is to be done?', The Guardian, 5 September. Available at: (Accessed: 10 March 2020).

This newspaper article from the Guardian discusses bias by British newspapers, in particular the Daily Express, in relation to immigration.


This recent televised serial highlights how Hundreds of sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted due to evidence from faulty IT software


Crop circles

'Aerial view of crop circles in Switzerland' (2020) Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 10 March 2020).

Crop circles were areas in fields where crops had been flattened in circular, geometric patterns. These patterns would appear mysteriously out of nowhere, usually overnight. The phenomenon had no known cause. In 1991, self -professed pranksters Doug Bower and Dave Chorley made headlines claiming it was they who started the phenomenon in 1978 with the use of simple tools consisting of a plank of wood, rope, and a baseball cap fitted with a loop of wire to help them walk in a straight line.


UKIP Breaking Point campaign poster

UKIP’s “Breaking Point” Billboard (image via, since removed)

This example shows one aspect of UKIP's campaign to leave the EU during the EU referendum period.It is profoundly deceptive: The photograph is of migrants moving from one border to another in Slovenia, not coming to the UK. But its intention was not to be accurate, but to evoke fear.