Speed Reads

Wordplay

Man who helped popularize the term 'fake news' says it has been 'twisted into a partisan cudgel'

BuzzFeed News media editor Craig Silverman began using the phrase "fake news" in 2014 in reference to the spread of misinformation online. But looking back at how President Trump and his supporters seized upon the term, Silverman writes that "I should have realized that any person, idea, or phrase — however neutral in its intention — could be twisted into a partisan cudgel."

Silverman's research originally began as a criticism of the lack of transparency at mainstream media publications. He additionally studied instances of hoaxes, viral tweets, and the rise of false news stories. "But after the 2016 election, shocked U.S. Democrats, looking for explanations, adopted the concept as an easy answer to the puzzle of Donald Trump's election," Silverman writes for BuzzFeed News. "And in response, Trump and his supporters saw the term as a threat and an insult — and a weapon."

Silverman adds that the phenomenon he set out to research has become a "sidebar in the discussion" and that by making "fake news" a politicized topic, our "ability to confront it" has been jeopardized. Read his full confrontation with the term he helped loose upon the world at BuzzFeed News.