Fake News has been a hot topic since the 2016 US election campaign. A new study now suggests that fake news is not as powerful as it is supposed to do. Although the maliciously misinformed websites spread quickly, they are virtually never the only source of information for users.
According to the three authors, it is the first study on fake news that deals with users and their network behavior rather than focusing on the websites themselves. As the New York Times writes, it came as a surprise result: even extreme users, who had positioned themselves clearly on the pro-Trump side of the US election campaign, consumed significantly more real than fake news.
The study is based on the analysis of the browser data of approximately 2525 US Americans who had voluntarily agreed to this process. It also analyzed all website visits before and after the election in 2016. Websites that had posted at least two proven false news were added to the Fake News category.
80 percent of the articles supported Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. Accordingly, the ten percent of the strongest Trump supporters accounted for around 65 percent of visits to the relevant websites. But these users also consumed significantly less fake news than was often assumed: six percent of the Trump supporters ‘and one percent of the Clinton supporters’ news was fake news – the rest was classic and factually correct news sites.
The study does not exclude the possibility of fake news influence on the election results but clearly argues that this phenomenon had the assumed power.
One result of the analysis, however, Facebook’s recently announced the change of strategy on the subject right: Although marked the social network for some months fake news – but there was, according to the study, anyone who has consumed both the fake news and the fact to check.