This is an outdated version published on 2022-02-02. Read the most recent version.

Cracking Open the News Feed

Exploring What U.S. Facebook Users See and Share with Large-Scale Platform Data


  • Andy Guess
  • Kevin Aslett New York University
  • Joshua Tucker
  • Richard Bonneau
  • Jonathan Nagler



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.



2021-04-26 — Updated on 2022-02-02


How to Cite

Guess, A., Aslett, K., Tucker, J., Bonneau, R., & Nagler, J. (2022). Cracking Open the News Feed: Exploring What U.S. Facebook Users See and Share with Large-Scale Platform Data. Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media , 1. (Original work published April 26, 2021)




Most read articles by the same author(s)