Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Fake U.S. election news outperformed the real thing on Facebook

A Buzzfeed analysis shows that in the last three months of the U.S. presidential election, fake news enjoyed far more sharing and engagement on Facebook than from mainstream brands such as the Washington Post and the New York Times.

From Buzzfeed (“Viral Fake Election News Outperformed Real News On Facebook In Final Months Of The US Election“):

In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found.

During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. (This analysis focused on the top performing link posts for both groups of publishers, and not on total site engagement on Facebook. For details on how we identified and analyzed the content, see the bottom of this post. View our data here.)

Up until those last three months of the campaign, the top election content from major outlets had easily outpaced that of fake election news on Facebook. Then, as the election drew closer, engagement for fake content on Facebook skyrocketed and surpassed that of the content from major news outlets.

Here’s how the numbers look when graphed out:

Facebook engagement of fake vs real 2016 US election news

“I’m troubled that Facebook is doing so little to combat fake news,” said Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College who researches political misinformation and fact-checking. “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.”

A Facebook spokesman told BuzzFeed News that the top stories don’t reflect overall engagement on the platform.

“There is a long tail of stories on Facebook,” the spokesman said. “It may seem like the top stories get a lot of traction, but they represent a tiny fraction of the total.”

One more tidbit:

Of the 20 top-performing false election stories identified in the analysis, all but three were overtly pro-Donald Trump or anti-Hillary Clinton.

Wed, November 16 2016 » Main Page, Media