This Just In: Fake News Packs a Lot in Title, Uses Simpler, Repetitive Content in Text Body, More Similar to Satire than Real News
Written by Lucy Black   
Thursday, 30 March 2017

Fake news, well you know it when you see it because it's news with its facts all wrong. Now researchers have concluded that this isn't the case. In fact fake news is more like satire than news in style and facts probably don't matter. 


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Research on three large data sets containing fake and genuine news and satire has targeted the question of the style and mannerisms of fake news. It has been assumed that fake news tries to mimic real news in journalistic style but this doesn't seem to be the case according to Benjamin D. Horne and Sibel Adali in a papaer presented at the 2nd International Workshop on News and Public Opinion at ICWSM.

The problem of fake news has gained a lot of attention as it is claimed to have had a significant impact on 2016 US Presidential Elections. Fake news is not a new problem and its spread in social networks is well-studied.

Often an underlying assumption in fake news discussion is that it is written to look like real news, fooling the reader who does not check for reliability of the sources or the arguments in its content.

Through a unique study of three data sets and features that capture the style and the language of articles, we show that this assumption is not true. Fake news in most cases is more similar to satire than to real news, leading us to conclude that persuasion in fake news is achieved through heuristics rather than the strength of arguments.

We show overall title structure and the use of proper nouns in titles are very significant in differentiating fake from real. This leads us to conclude that fake news is targeted for audiences who are not likely to read beyond titles and is aimed at creating mental associations between entities and claims.


The full paper makes interesting reading and there are some interesting findings at

Titles are a strong differentiating factor between fake and real news.
...we find that fake news titles are longer than real news titles and contain simpler words in both length and technicality. Fake titles also used more all capitalized words, significantly more proper nouns, but fewer nouns overall, and fewer stopwords

Fake content is more closely related to satire than to real.

...both satire and fake use smaller, fewer technical, and fewer analytic words, as well as, fewer quotes, fewer punctuation, more adverbs, and fewer nouns than real articles. Further, fake and satire use significantly more lexical redundancy than real articles.

Real news persuades through arguments, while fake news persuades through heuristics.

...fake news places a high amount substance and claims into their titles and places much less logic, technicality, and sound arguments in the body text of the article...The body of fake news articles add relatively little new information, but serves to repeat and enhance the claims made in the title.



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Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 March 2017 )