Report: Fake Election News on Facebook Influenced US Election

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…Fake news garnered 8.7 million shares, likes, comments

…Mainstream news outlets (New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal) got 7.4 million shares, likes, comments

…Hoax articles like Pope endorsing Trump, Clinton selling arms to ISIS were hits

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be right that it’s “extremely unlikely” fake news and hoax news on his social network affected the results of the U.S. presidential election, but it also appears true that, as some Facebook employees attest, Facebook has a fake-news problem. During the crucial final three months of the election, the top 20 fake election articles on Facebook generated more engagement — shares, likes, comments — than the 20 best-performing election articles from legitimate news sites, according to a BuzzFeed analysis.

facebookThe top 20 fake and hoax election stories generated a combined 8.7 million shares, likes, and comments in the final three months of the campaigns, while the top election stories and op-eds from The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, USA Today, and other purveyors of reported news earned 7.4 million reactions. The clear winner was Ending the Fed, a website that was registered in March and doesn’t list an owner. That site notched four of the top 10 fake election stories on Facebook, with a false story about Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump taking the top overall spot; combined with hoax articles about Hillary Clinton selling weapons to ISIS, Clinton being disqualified to run, and FBI Director James Comey getting millions from the Clinton Foundation, the four fake articles generated nearly 3 million engagements in three months.
fake-news-graphAll but three of the top 20 fake election news articles were pro-Trump or anti-Clinton. “I’m troubled that Facebook is doing so little to combat fake news,” Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan tells BuzzFeed News. “Even if they did not swing the election, the evidence is clear that bogus stories have incredible reach on the network. Facebook should be fighting misinformation, not amplifying it.” Facebook pushed back, telling BuzzFeed that engagement does not equal traffic. “It may seem like the top stories get a lot of traction, but they represent a tiny fraction of the total,” a Facebook spokesman said. Facebook and Google took steps this week to tamp down on fake news. Peter Weber.

The Week

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