Trump Supporters Consume the Most Fake News, Oxford Study Shows

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Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP.

An Oxford University study published earlier this week named Trump supporters and “hard conservatives” as the top sharers and consumers of “junk news” on social media, outpacing all other political groups combined.

The three-month study, released Tuesday as part of the school’s Computational Propaganda Research Project, analyzed the habits of roughly 13,500 politically active Twitter users and 47,700 Facebook pages in the months leading up to Trump’s SOTU address, the Huffington Post reported.

Researchers were then able to map how links to junk news sources ebb and flow through social media channels. After reviewing the links users shared, researchers separated them into many distinct, sometimes overlapping, groups: “Conspiracy,” “Libertarian,” “Women’s Rights,” “Democratic Party,” etc.

A whopping 55 percent of “junk” or fake news traffic on Twitter could be attributed to the “Trump support” group, according to the research. Meanwhile, the “Progressive Movement” and “Democratic Party” together were responsible for just 1 percent of the platform’s junk news.

Over on Facebook, the Oxford study found that extreme hard right pages (separate from Republican pages) shared “…the widest range of known junk news sources and circulate more junk news than all the other audiences put together.” The “Hard Conservatives” accounted for 58 percent of the junk news on Facebook while the “Democratic Party” group was responsible for just 12 percent.

Lastly, researchers found that on average, the audiences for junk news on Twitter share a wider range of known fake news sources than audiences on Facebook public pages.

Researchers defined “junk news sources” as those that deviated from standard journalistic practices and intentionally published “misleading, deceptive or incorrect information purporting to be real news.

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