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Fake election news outperformed real news on Facebook in the three months prior to the presidential election, according to a study conducted by BuzzFeed.
The false news stories identified by BuzzFeed come from fake news websites or hyper-partisan websites.
With the top 20 election stories, fake news had 8.7 million engagements on Facebook versus 7.3 million from mainstream news. Engagements refer to the number of action taken with the content, whether it’s Likes, shares, comments, or clicks.
Seventeen out of the 20 top stories were pro Trump or anti Clinton. The top false stories included a Donald Trump endorsement from the pope published by Ending the Fed, and a story claiming Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS from the Political Insider.
The top stories from mainstream media with the most engagements included “Trump’s history of Corruption is Mind-Boggling. So why is Clinton Supposedly the corrupt one?” published by the Washington Post, and “Stop Pretending you don’t know why people Hate Hillary Clinton” by the Huffington Post.
This data shows the extent to which fake news regarding the election was distributed throughout Facebook. Although Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has dismissed the possibility that fake news swayed the election one way or another, he has recently said Facebook is working on flagging false content.
“We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here,” Zuckerberg posted. “We have made progress, and we will continue to work on this to improve further.”
In the meantime, watch out for these 130 fake news publishers.
Nidia Cavazos is a multimedia journalist with an emphasis on political reporting. She's contributed to Univision, KXAN, and USA Today College, and she was named one of six NBC Fellows by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 2017.