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Misinformation is more famous now than in 2016 on Facebook

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People are engaging more on Facebook today with news outlets that routinely publish misinformation than they did before the 2016 election.Credit...Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

During the 2016 presidential election, Russian agents used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms to spread false information to divide American voters. Since then, social media companies have spent billions of dollars and hired tens of thousands of people to help clean up their behavior.

But has the platform really become more complicated in handling error messages?

Not necessary.

According to the latest research by the German Marshall Fund Digital, the digital arm of the public policy think tank. Today people are more involved in Facebook and the news media that routinely post misinformation than before the 2016 election. The organization has established a data partnership with start-up NewsGuard and social media analytics company NewsWhip. They released its findings on Monday.

They found that Facebook likes, comments, and sharing articles from news media that regularly publish false and misleading content approximately tripled from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2020.

Interactions on Facebook Pages for Outlets Posting Misinformation

Source: German Marshall Fund’s Digital New Deal • By The New York Times

About two-thirds of the likes and comments came from articles published by 10 outlets, which the researchers classified as “fake content producers” or “manipulators.”

According to this research, these news media include the Palmer Report and Federalists.

The organization uses NewsGuard’s rating, which ranks news sites based on the way news sites adhere to 9 news principles, classifies them as “fake content producers” and repeatedly publishes provably false content; and “manipulators” “These manipulators often make unsubstantiated claims or distort information to arouse controversy.

“We have these sites that masquerade as news outlets online. They’re allowed to,” said Karen Kornbluh, director of GMF Digital. “It’s infecting our discourse and it’s affecting the long-term health of the democracy.”

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Kornbru said that due to the coronavirus pandemic forcing people to quarantine indoors, Facebook users have paid more attention to all news media articles this year. However, the likes, sharing, and comments of content from manipulators and fake content producers have grown faster than people’s interactions with what researchers call “legal news media”. Such as Reuters, The Associated Press, and Bloomberg.

Ms. Kornbru said that social media companies face a problem because their business relies on viral content to attract users. Then, they can show ads to users. She said reducing misinformation “just runs against their economic incentives.”

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On Facebook, Misinformation Is More Popular Now Than in 2016

 

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