Fake News and Advertising on Social Media: A Study of the Anti-Vaccination Movement
Online sources sometimes publish information that is false or intentionally misleading. We study the role of social networks and advertising on social networks in the dissemination of false news stories about childhood vaccines. We document that anti-vaccine Facebook groups disseminate false stories beyond the groups as well as serving as an “echo” chamber. We also find that after Facebook's ban on advertising by fake new sites, the sharing of fake news articles on Facebook fell by 75% on Facebook compared to Twitter.
We thank Yinbo Gao, Tamara Kawash, Gyan Prayaga, and Andrea Tuemmler for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Though this research was not supported by any grants other than those listed, Catherine Tucker would like to acknowledge that in the past she has received research support from the Computer and Communications Industry Association, Google, Times Warner and WPP.