In the 12 weeks leading up to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union — or State of the “Uniom,” as it were — one group of people shared significantly more fake news stories than any other. The culprits? “Ultra-rightwing conservatives,” according to a forthcoming study from the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute summarized today in the Financial Times. The study looked at 14,000 Twitter users and over 45,000 Facebook pages.
So how much is “significantly more?” The superconservative group shared more fake news stories than every other group — the study consisted of 13 groups — of internet users combined, FT reports. Users on the opposite end of the political spectrum — users on the farthest left — were also guilty of sharing fake news, though not in such large quantities as their conservative counterparts. “On Facebook, the hard conservative group shared links to more than 90 per cent of the sites identified by the researchers as sources of ‘propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan and conspiratorial political information,’” FT notes.
Clearly, the fake-news problem didn’t go away after the election. Which, in case you’d forgotten already because that was a zillion lifetimes ago, involved 150 million Americans seeing bogus Facebook ads purchased by Russian actors. In the ten weeks leading up to the election, nearly 700,000 people retweeted Russian propaganda. (Twitter has since emailed those users letting them know.) To avoid adding to the noise, here’s a handy guide to “fake, false, regularly misleading, and otherwise questionable ‘news’ organizations” that might be worth a visit before the next time you click “share.”