What kinds of social media users read junk news?
Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project (COMPROP) examined the distribution of the most significant sources of junk news in the three months before President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address.
Drawing on a list of sources that consistently publish political news and information that is extremist, sensationalist, conspiratorial, masked commentary, fake news and other forms of junk news, it found that the distribution of such content is unevenly spread across the ideological spectrum.
The study demonstrates that, on Twitter, a network of Trump supporters shares the widest range of known junk news sources and circulates more junk news than all the other groups put together.
On Facebook, the study found that extreme hard right pages – distinct from Republican pages – share the widest range of known junk news sources and circulate more junk news than all the other audiences put together.
COMPROP investigates the interaction of algorithms, automation and politics. This work includes analysis of how tools like social media bots are used to manipulate public opinion by amplifying or repressing political content, disinformation, hate speech, and junk news.
It uses perspectives from organisational sociology, human computer interaction, communication, information science, and political science to interpret and analyze the evidence.