A group of University of Oxford researchers combed through over 13,000 politically active Twitter accounts to reach the conclusion that pro-Trump accounts share “the widest range of junk sources on Twitter.”
The research, published on Tuesday, was taken from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project, which has studied disinformation campaigns globally since 2014, according to Mother Jones.
Along with Twitter accounts, Oxford researchers also monitored 48,000 public Facebook pages and investigated the external websites these pages shared links to. The study found “extreme hard-right” conservatives shared more fake news stories on the site than all other political groups combined, according to Newsweek.
According to the finding, criteria that researchers used for defining a source as junk news was whether or not the content included “various forms of extremist, sensationalist, conspiratorial, masked commentary, fake news and other forms of junk news.”
The dataset was verified by researchers, so the accounts from the study definitely weren’t bots.
The topic of fake news has been a constant social media concern since the presidential election campaign. In a 2016 article by Gizmodo, a former journalist who curated news for Facebook said the company purposefully kept popular conservative news sites off the “trending news” sidebar. The anonymous journalist, who is conservative, “described the omissions as a function of his colleagues’ judgments.”
Last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted before Congress that Russian trolls fed rampant propaganda through his company’s News Feed.
Fake or real, political bias remains an issue on Facebook and Twitter. Back in 2016, the Wall Street Journal put together an interactive guide to show social media users how their preferences are fine-tuning their feed to echo back their beliefs—not challenge them. Sure, the study found junk political news and information was concentrated among Trump’s supporters, but will they notice?
Another expensive study to confirm what informed people already know.— JMPlumb (@jplumb50) February 6, 2018
It doesn’t really matter because the people that really need to consider the information won’t.