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Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media

Hunt Allcott, Matthew Gentzkow, Chuan Yu

NBER Working Paper No. 25500
Issued in January 2019
NBER Program(s):The Industrial Organization Program, The Political Economy Program

In recent years, there has been widespread concern that misinformation on social media is damaging societies and democratic institutions. In response, social media platforms have announced actions to limit the spread of false content. We measure trends in the diffusion of content from 569 fake news websites and 9,540 fake news stories on Facebook and Twitter between January 2015 and July 2018. User interactions with false content rose steadily on both Facebook and Twitter through the end of 2016. Since then, however, interactions with false content have fallen sharply on Facebook while continuing to rise on Twitter, with the ratio of Facebook engagements to Twitter shares decreasing by 60 percent. In comparison, interactions with other news, business, or culture sites have followed similar trends on both platforms. Our results suggest that the relative magnitude of the misinformation problem on Facebook has declined since its peak.

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Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25500

Published: Hunt Allcott & Matthew Gentzkow & Chuan Yu, 2019. "Trends in the diffusion of misinformation on social media," Research & Politics, vol 6(2).

 
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