Fake News in the News Yet Again

On January 11, 2017, the term “fake news” entered the mainstream discourse when Donald Trump, during his first press conference as President-elect, refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta and told him, “You are fake news.”  The source of that outburst can apparently be traced to a 35-page unverified document based primarily on memos complied by a former British intelligence operative that CNN had publicized.  President-elect Trump immediately blasted the report through his favorite medium of communication, tweeting, “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” On October 21, 2017, more than nine months after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the President referenced fake news in two separate tweets on two separate issues, proving the remarkable durability of a phrase that has consumed lawmakers, the social media industry, and the general public.  And with the recent revelations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 Presidential election on behalf of Trump, U.S.  lawmakers introduced legislation on October 19, 2017, to extend rules governing political advertising on television, print, and radio to cover social media such as Facebook. The “Honest Ads Act,” introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), and John McCain (R-AZ), would expand existing election law covering television and radio outlets to apply to paid internet and digital advertisements on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google.  The law would require digital platforms with at least 50 million monthly views to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by anyone spending more than $500.  It would also require online platforms to make “all reasonable efforts” to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are...