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Krämer, Benjamin (2021): Stop studying fake news (we can still fight against disinformation in the media). In: Scm Studies in Communication and Media, Vol. 10, No. 1: pp. 6-30

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The problem of fake news has received considerable attention both in public discourse and in scholarship. However, many have argued that the term should be avoided for ideological reasons or because it lacks clarity. At the same time, a growing body of literature investigates fake news empirically. We complement this discussion by reflecting on epistemological and methodological problems with the term fake news and the implications for possible solutions to the problem of disinformation such as automatic detection and increased media literacy. Based on the principle of symmetry established in the sociology of scientific knowledge, we show that a classification of messages according to the researcher's assessment of their truthfulness can lead to biased or tautological explanations. We argue that many researchers commit themselves to the truth or falsehood of messages in cases where they should not and avoid such a commitment when it is necessary.

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