It is certainly reasonable to believe that humans have been deceiving one another at least since the Cro-Magnons appeared on the scene some 45,000 years ago. Moreover, it is equally reasonable to believe that we will continue to do so for as long as the species survives.
So if lying, falsehood, deception and the like have always been with us, what makes the current fake news crisis so dire? Consider this chain of events:
In pre-literate times, lies could only be spread by word of mouth, one person to another (or a group of people).
THE INVENTION OF WRITING
When writing was invented, the physical presence of the deceiver was no longer necessary which allowed for a larger audience, however for many centuries very few people were literate.
THE INVENTION OF PRINTING AND THE SPREAD OF LITERACY
Printing which made books cheaper and easier to obtain, and the resulting growing numbers of literate people, sped up the distribution of texts that could contain falsehoods and extended their reach to an even larger audience.
MODERN SOCIETY AND THE MEDIA
In modern times, first radio, then television, continued to enlarge that audience. And then the Internet came along and made it possible for a lie to be instantly tweeted to thousands of people in a few seconds.
Deception now has the most efficient and effective delivery system in history, one with the power to touch all our lives every single day. What was once just a trickle has become a vast ocean and we need to be able to identify the floating garbage, the rip tides, and the things with nasty stingers hidden beneath the sand!