Pouring cold water on the fake news panic

From Michael Cook at MercatorNet:

Just a handful of academic studies have attempted to measure the impact of fake news – as opposed to the dissemination of fake news.

In January 2017, Jacob L. Nelson, of Northwestern University, published an article in the Columbia Journalism Review.

He poured cold water on fake news panic. In the first place, the readership of internet fake news is tiny compared to the real news audience–just one-tenth. Readers also spent more time on average with real news than fake news.

And most significantly, readers of fake news do not exist in a filter bubble. Visitors to fake news sites visited real news sites just as often as visitors to real news sites visited other real news sites. In fact, sometimes fake news audiences visited real news sites more often.

Nelson concluded: “Is ‘fake news’ a fake problem?”More.

Reality check: Yes, it is a fake and very old problem. There has always been lots of fake news and disinformation out there, as anyone who has glanced at the supermarket checkout counter tabloids in th last fifty years will have noticed.

Hillary Clinton lost the US election because of real news that her party was unequipped to face, period.

See also: Part I: What isfake news? Do we believe it?

Part II: Does fake news make a difference in politics?

Part III: What can we do about fake news that would not diminish real news? Critics of ‘fake news’ should go to China — only the government has the right to post fake news.

Extra! Extra! A handy guide to the normal fake news: Surviving information overload

  • I read the other day that Elvis Presley is earning $40 million a year still, which surely proves conclusively that, as reported by certain British newspapers over the years, he is indeed alive and well and living on the Moon. Quite what he spends all that money on up there though, I have no idea.

    ‘Fake news’ a recent phenomenon? I don’t think so.

    • Alain

      What is however new, or more recent in history, with fake news is its political agenda.

      • Yes. Fair comment. Elvis living on the Moon or not hardly impinges on most people’s lives, I have to admit. It does make the point that simple greed for money is generally preferable to greed for political power.

  • I believe fake news by the MSM – networks such as CNN. BBC. CBC. etc. – has a major impact on a great many ordinary people’s beliefs and choices, because these are their only source of news and opinion. The fact that CNN and similar news sources got into a chorus of badgering Trump from the start of his candidacy and presidency has affected these people en masse, creating in their minds the illusion that he is the devil himself, Hitler reborn. Yes, fake news is powerful.