Fake news and buffalos

What is fake news?

All those of you who’ve had one eye on the news or socials recently are sure to have heard “fake news” our term of the week.


In Italian, fake news, or, hoax, is a “bufala” (that’s right sounds like buffalo.) An apparently plausible piece of news, or information that circulates uncontrollably without check through communication channels contributing to the diffusion of false information. 


The phenomenon of fake

The internet has contributed to the phenomenon of fake news as socials allow the rapid unchecked diffusion of information. The more worrying or scary, weird or connected to a trend, the more the news is shared (and shared, and share.) Clickbait generates more clicks and therefore profits.


The spread of fake news

The American President, Trump, has made the term “fake news” an international expresion using it continuously to deny uncomfortable evidences and substantiate his claims against certain news fonts to try to discredit them. In an interview in the midst of an obvious epidemic, he defined the Coronavirus as fake news, as hoax put out by the democrats to discredit his leadership. 


But where does it all come from?

Hoax derives from hocus, an abbreviation of hocus pocus, from the latin hoc est corpus, nonsense words or wizard’s or illusionist’s enchantment used to trick spectators.


Fake news on the other hand seems to go back to the criminal jargon of the 19th century. The first noted use according to Hardy’s 1819 dictionary of criminal slang was “to fake your pin,” a technique of self-harm that delinquents used to avoid military service. Slowly “to fake” came to mean to deceive in the generic sense as we know it today.


The Italian “bufala” is reflective of the buffalo, a docile creature that can be slowly led without resistance. The imagery being that the “bufala” works on the masses in the same way, as they “easily led” and “lap up” any news without checking the validity.


Let’s not add to the chaos of fake news, hoax’ or “bufala.” #stayathome and #flattenthecurve. Take advantage of your #remoteworking time by fixing up and translating your website, taking a virtual language course or just checking out our website.

Image courtesy of freepix

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