Fake news is term with various meanings.
In one sense, it refers to "fake news websites" or "hoax news websites" which deliberately publish false news stories. This often in order to gain financially through advertising revenue. It often involves making sensational but false claims and relying on internet social media in order to spread the sensational, false stories and gain clicks.
In another sense, it is in effect a politically correct term for politically incorrect news. That the news are false or that the publisher knowingly spread false news is questionable.
In response to the politically correct usage, the not politically correct media has appropriated the term, but now instead using it to label news argued to be politically correct but false. This has caused responses such as "The speed with which the term became polarized and in fact a rhetorical weapon illustrates how efficient the conservative media machine has become". It has even been argued that the term has become "tainted" due to this and that the politically correct should stop using it.
Various governmental agencies and other actors (such as lobby groups) have a long history of trying to influence mass media news. Some examples are Israeli Hasbara and CIA's Operation Mockingbird, aiming to influence mass media in the US and internationally.
There are numerous examples of false news (often false flag variants) being used in order to justify starting a war or attempting to start wars. One example was the false news that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction, widely reported in the mainstream media, and used as a justification for starting the Iraq War.
The term has also been used in conspiracy theories that claim large amounts of false news being spread by the Russian government. Some variants allege support for the Alt-Right and White nationalist movements, despite the fact that the Russian government, while supporting Russian civic nationalism, has banned/imprisoned Russian White nationalist organizations/individuals and "Holocaust denial".
There are numerous examples of fake news involving "hate crimes" by Whites. See the article on this topic and the external links cited there.
- It’s time to retire the tainted term ‘fake news’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/its-time-to-retire-the-tainted-term-fake-news/2017/01/06/a5a7516c-d375-11e6-945a-76f69a399dd5_story.html