Fake News: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Abayomi Baiyere, Michel Avital, Alan R. Dennis, Jennifer Gibbs, Dov Te'eni

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


“Fake news” is a term that is gradually finding its way into our conceptual lexicon in academia. This trend can be said to mirror the increasing usage of the term in popular parlance as well as the sociopolitical impact attributed to the increasing presence of fake news in our society (Allcott & Gentzkow 2017; Lazer et al. 2018). While many have argued for the existence of fake news since time immemorial (Allcott and Gentzkow 2017), the increasing attention that it is receiving can be related to the affordance of digital technologies to generate, spread, and affect behavior at a speed, scale, and extent that is unprecedented in history (Lazer et al. 2018; Moravec et al. 2018). Yet despite the growing interest in engaging with fake news both empirically and theoretically (Dennis et al. 2019), we still struggle to conceptually capture what exactly we mean when we invoke the fake news label. Although existing attempts at defining fake news have provided us with a useful foundation to build upon (Allcott & Gentzkow 2017; Gelfert 2018; Lazer et al. 2018; Tandok et al. 2018), many attempts either tend to swing the pendulum towards an extreme or adopt a pragmatic orientation that is useful as an empirical tool but lacking in its coverage of the phenomenon. This panel is designed to stimulate discussion on this topic and generate a reflective conceptualization of what fake news is, and unpack some theoretical and practical implications of scholarly engagement with this phenomenon. Lastly, it is important to understand the implications of a useful conceptualizing of fake news. Extant literature has identified at least four domains, among others, for which we can highlight practical and theoretical implications. These include domains such as understanding a) the generation of fake news (Shao et al. 2017); b) the detection of fake news (Gahirwal et al. 2018; Kim et al. 2019); c) the spread of fake news (Campan et al. 2017); d) and the behavioural implications (Moravec et al. 2018; Murungi et al. 2018), among others. A useful starting point in making meaningful progress towards engaging with these persistent issues lies in a conceptual clarification of what we mean by fake news. In setting up this symposium, we aim to provide an interdisciplinary platform where these questions can be tackled from different perspectives. These are questions that require engaging scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds within AoM.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020: Broadening Our Sight - Virtual
Duration: 7 Aug 202011 Aug 2020
Conference number: 80


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2020
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