Cracking Open the News Feed
Exploring What U.S. Facebook Users See and Share with Large-Scale Platform Data
Keywords:social media, misinformation, news consumption, platform data, clickbait, computational social science
In this study, we analyze for the first time newly available engagement data covering millions of web links shared on Facebook to describe how and by which categories of U.S. users different types of news are seen and shared on the platform. We focus on articles from low-credibility news publishers, credible news sources, purveyors of clickbait, and news specifically about politics, which we identify through a combination of curated lists and supervised classifiers. Our results support recent findings that more fake news is shared by older users and conservatives and that both viewing and sharing patterns suggest a preference for ideologically congenial misinformation. We also find that fake news articles related to politics are more popular among older Americans than other types, while the youngest users share relatively more articles with clickbait headlines. Across the platform, however, articles from credible news sources are shared over 5 times more often and viewed over 7 times more often than articles from low-credibility sources. These findings offer important context for researchers studying the spread and consumption of information — including misinformation — on social media.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Andy Guess, Kevin Aslett, Joshua Tucker, Richard Bonneau, Jonathan Nagler
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.