Facebook was one of the largest distributor of fake news, study finds

File photo: People stand in front of a logo at the Facebook headquarters in London, Uk, 4 December 2017. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

A recent study found that Facebook was one of the largest gateway for fake news in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

The social media site was by far the top purveyor of fake news stories, which gives them a head start of e-mail, Google and Twitter, on the basis of three political scientists. Their findings are based on actual web traffic data pulled from 2,525 Americans, who gave permission for the research.

“We estimate that about 1 in 4 Americans visited a fake-news website, 7 October-14 November 2016,” their paper says.

On the basis of their example, the political scientists estimate 22 percent of the fake news, they visit identified were conveyed to the Americans via Facebook.

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E-mail providers such as Yahoo or Gmail, responsible for more than 6 percent. Meanwhile, both Google and Twitter each may have spread less than 2 percent.

The study, which The New York Times published on Tuesday, offers a number of real hard data about how fake news is consumed. It is Facebook itself trying to fight the wrong information about the platform.

Third-party fact-checking websites were seen as a way to stop fake news from readers for the crazy. However, these efforts appear not to reach. According to the study, when people consume fake news, they almost never read the accompanying fact-check and debunk the false claims.

But even if the study estimates that millions of Americans suffer from fake news, most of the time people are still watching the real news. For example, during the 2016 election, fake news, only 6 percent of the total news articles visited by supporters of Donald Trump.

For Hillary Clinton supporters, with the percentage of 0.8%.

Ironically, the people who read the most fake news, also read a lot of the real news, the study found. Many of the fake news was also concentrated among Trump supporters.

“The 10 percent of Americans with the most conservative information diets consumed an average of 33.16 articles of pro-Trump fake news sites,” the study said.

The remaining 90 percent more rarely consumed fake news, articles, an average of between 0.43 to article 4.2 visits in the study period.

The professors behind the study are under Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, Andrew Boards of Princeton University and Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter. A limitation of the study was to saw there only to visit the website, and not the fake news consumption via mobile devices, or how users interact with the social media platforms directly.

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