How fake news differs from personal lies

Ming Ming CHIU, Yu Won OH

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Personal lies (girl on date lying to dad) and fake news (Obama Bans Pledge of Allegiance) both deceive but in different ways, so they require different detection methods. People in long-term relationships try to tell undetectable lies to encourage, often, audience inaction. In contrast, unattached fake news welcome attention and try to ignite audience action. Thus, they differ in six ways: (a) speaker–audience relationship, (b) goal, (c) emotion, (d) information, (e) number of participants, and (f) citation of sources. To detect personal lies, a person can use their intimate relationship to heighten emotions, raise the stakes, and ask for more information, participants, or sources. In contrast, a person evaluates the legitimacy of potential fake news by examining the websites of its author, the people in the news article, and/or reputable media sources. Large social media companies have suitable expertise, data, and resources to reduce fake news. Search tools, rival news media links to one another's articles, encrypted signature links, and improved school curricula might also help users detect fake news. Copyright © 2020 SAGE Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-258
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number2
Early online dateMar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2021


Chiu, M. M., & Oh, Y. W. (2021). How fake news differs from personal lies. American Behavioral Scientist, 65(2), 243-258. doi: 10.1177/0002764220910243


  • Fake news
  • Personal lies
  • Speaker–audience relationship
  • Social media


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