Fake News: A Legal Perspective

Journal of Internet Law (Apr. 2017)

9 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2017

See all articles by David Klein

David Klein

Klein Moynihan Turco LLP

Joshua Wueller

Newsday Media Group

Date Written: March 8, 2017


The concept of “fake news” has garnered substantial attention in recent years, evolving from its satirical literary origins into a passionately criticized Internet phenomenon. Whether described as rumors, “counterknowledge,” misinformation, “post-truths,” “alternative facts” or just plain damned lies, these false statements of fact typically are published on Web sites and disseminated via social media for profit or social influence.

While fake news publishers are regularly taken to task in the court of public opinion, we are unaware of any prior structured discussion of the unique legal issues surrounding the publication of fake news. This article evaluates examples of fake news publications to present a workable definition of “fake news” for purposes of our legal analysis. We then explore many of the legal and regulatory hurdles facing online fake news publishers. This article concludes by discussing some of the legal protections available to fake news publications and publishers of other online content.

Keywords: fake news, social media, Facebook, First Amendment, defamation, libel, IIED, intellectual property, trademark, copyright, right of publicity, Federal Trade Commission, FTC, UDTP, cyberbullying, anti-SLAPP, Pizzagate, 20th Century Fox, Donald J. Trump, Hillary Clinton

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K12, K14, K19, K20, K23, K30, K39, L82, L86, M30, M31, M37, M38, O34

Suggested Citation

Klein, David and Wueller, Joshua, Fake News: A Legal Perspective (March 8, 2017). Journal of Internet Law (Apr. 2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2958790

David Klein

Klein Moynihan Turco LLP ( email )

450 Seventh Avenue
40th Floor
New York, NY 10123
United States

Joshua Wueller (Contact Author)

Newsday Media Group

United States

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