Fake News Outperformed Real News on Facebook During Run-Up to Election Day


Fake news about politics outperformed real news on Facebook in the final months leading up to Election Day, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News.

According to the site, false clickbait articles dominated views and shares on the social networking site in the last three months before President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning victory over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, on Tuesday, November 8.

BuzzFeed’s report compared fake news from hyper-partisan blogs to steadfast reports from typically reliable outlets such as The New York Times, Fox News and CBS News, among others.

The site brought up several fake articles that caused a commotion on social media in the run-up to Election Day. Back in September, an article titled “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President” racked up hundreds of thousands of shares, as did a post blasting this erroneous headline: “WikiLeaks CONFIRMS Hillary Sold Weapons to ISIS.” The fabricated stories were published by sites Ending The Fed and The Political Insider, respectively.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in Missouri. Scott Olson/Getty Images

According to BuzzFeed News, 17 of Facebook’s top 20 fake articles were pro-Trump and anti-Clinton. The site reports that these stories were collectively shared, liked or commented on more than 8.7 million times.

While campaigning for Clinton, 69, on November 7 in Michigan, President Barack Obama spoke out about the problem with inaccurate Facebook articles.

“And people, if they just repeat attacks enough, and outright lies over and over again, as long as it’s on Facebook and people can see it, as long as it’s on social media, people start believing it,” Obama, 55, said during a speech at the University of Michigan. “And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense.”

In response to outcries from social media users who believe fake articles should be banned from Facebook, the website’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, refuted the idea that such posts had any effect on this year’s election results.

“I think the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election in any way, I think is a pretty crazy idea,” he said during a Thursday, November 10, tech conference.

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