Trump supporters are the biggest consumers and promoters of fake news

According to a new study conducted by Oxford University, Trump supporters and far-right conservatives share more fake news on social media that any other political demographic.

The study published this Tuesday analyzed the social media habits of 13,477 politically active Twitter users and 47,719 political Facebook pages in the months leading up to President Trump’s State of the Union address. They then broke down the links disseminated by the social media profiles they studied into categories such as “Hard Conservative,” “Women’s Rights,” “Conspiracy,” “Libertarian,” “Trump Support,” “Democratic Party,” “Resistance,” “Local News,” etc.

The study found that 55 percent of fake news on Twitter was connected to the “Trump Support” category, saying that the Twitter “network of Trump supporters shares the widest range of known junk news sources and circulates more junk news than all the other groups put together.” On Facebook, “extreme hard right pages—distinct from Republican pages—share the widest range of known junk news sources and circulate more junk news than all the other audiences put together.”

Researchers used distinct guidelines to identify fake news sources, such as “Professionalism,” “Style,” “Credibility,” “Bias,” and “Counterfeit.”

Professionalism: These outlets do not employ the standards and best practices of professional journalism. They refrain from providing clear information about real authors, editors, publishers and owners. They lack transparency,
accountability, and do not publish corrections on debunked information.

Style: These outlets use emotionally driven language with emotive expressions, hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, misleading headlines, excessive capitalization, unsafe generalizations and fallacies, moving images, graphic pictures
and mobilizing memes.

Credibility: These outlets rely on false information and conspiracy theories, which they often employ strategically. They report without consulting multiple sources and do not employ fact-checking methods. Their sources are often
untrustworthy and their standards of news production lack credibility.

Bias: Reporting in these outlets is highly biased and ideologically skewed, which is otherwise described as hyper-partisan reporting. These outlets frequently present opinion and commentary essays as news.

Counterfeit: These outlets mimic professional news media. They counterfeit fonts, branding and stylistic content strategies. Commentary and junk content is stylistically disguised as news, with references to news agencies, and credible sources, and headlines written in a news tone, with bylines, date, time and location stamps.

For comparison, the study’s categories “Democratic Party” and Progressive Movement” accounted for 1 percent of fake news disseminated in Twitter. On Facebook, the “Democratic Party” group accounted for 12 percent of fake news disseminated.

The researchers determined that there was “limited overlap” amongst Democrats and Republicans when it came to the news outlets they preferred. In other words, people’s insistence on remaining trapped in their ideological bubbles is only causing America’s political polarization to grow.

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