It’s so widely accepted that it’s verging on conventional wisdom: misinformation, or “fake news,” spread primarily by Facebook to hundreds of millions of people (and created by Russian agents), helped distort the political landscape before and during the 2016 US presidential election, and this resulted in Donald Trump becoming president. But is it really that cut and dried? Not according to Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist and professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. He and several colleagues have been researching this question since the election, and have come to a very different conclusion. Fears about the spread and influence of fake news have been over-hyped, Nyhan says, and many of the initial conclusions about the scope of the problem and its effect on US politics were exaggerated or just plain wrong.
Nyhan says his data shows so-called “fake news” reached only a tiny proportion of the population before and during the 2016 election. In most cases, misinformation from a range of fake news sites made up just 2 percent or less of the average person’s online news consumption, and even among the group of older conservatives who were most likely to consume fake news, it only made up about 8 percent. Not only that, but the University of Michigan researcher says a new paper he and his colleagues recently published shows the reach of fake news actually fell significantly between the 2016 election and the midterm elections last year, which suggests Facebook has cracked down on the
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/researchers-fake-news-exaggerated.php