Causes and consequences of mainstream media dissemination of fake news: literature review and synthesis

Yariv Tsfati, H. G. Boomgaarden, J. Strömbäck, R. Vliegenthart, A. Damstra, E. Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research indicates that the reach of fake news websites is limited to small parts of the population. On the other hand, data demonstrate that large proportions of the public know about notable fake news stories and believe them. These findings imply the possibility that most people hear about fake news stories not from fake news websites but through their coverage in mainstream news outlets. Thus far, only limited attention has been directed to the role of mainstream media in the dissemination of disinformation. To remedy this, this article synthesizes the literature pertaining to understand the role mainstream media play in the dissemination of fake news, the reasons for such coverage and its influences on the audience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the International Communication Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is part of the research project ‘Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences, Cures,’ funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond for the Advancement of the Humanities and Social Sciences [grant number M18-0310:1]. The authors thank Nathan Walter for his comments on a previous version.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Fake news
  • disinformation
  • fact checking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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