Anyone who has been keeping up with American politics over the past few years — or who has been on Twitter at all during that same timeframe — will likely be familiar with a short, yet dangerous, phrase: “Fake news.”
It’s a term that has been used on hundreds of occasions by US President Donald Trump to critique news stories that may have been unfavourable towards him or simply did not align with his beliefs.
Trump’s days of shouting those two words could be coming to an end, however, as the Calgary ad agency Wax Partnership has teamed up with the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in an attempt to trademark “fake news.”
- See also:
“Trump has popularized the idea that all mainstream media is lying and corrupt. Labeling stories that are critical of him as ‘fake news’ is an effective weapon,” said Emily Bloch, President, SPJ Florida Pro Chapter, in a release.
“We’re now seeing people using the term to dismiss truthful stories that don’t align with their politics or views. And that’s a major problem for healthy discourse in a democracy.”
While neither group has too high of hopes that the trademark will actually go through, they said in the release that they hope that the stunt — alongside a tongue-in-cheek video explaining the reasoning behind the trademark application — will get people talking.
They’ve also set up a website dedicated to (true) information about fake news and the steps people can take to determine if a news story is false or simply being called so by those who oppose the information presented within it.
“It may seem absurd, or even extreme, to attempt to trademark a popular term like ‘fake news,’ but we’re hoping the idea is provocative enough to get people to stop and think about how they use the term or what it means when others use it,” adds Bloch.
“After all, the vast majority of news you hear called ‘fake’ isn’t actually fake.”
The group even went so far as to preemptively send Trump a cease-and-desist letter, which can be found below: