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TGS PhD Candidate to have Fake News Study Published

Modified: February 13, 2018
Jacob Nelson, a PhD candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program, and Harsh Taneja, an alumnus of TGS and assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, are about to have their study on fake news published in New Media & Society, one of the top journals in their field. The study examines online audience data in the months leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election and shows that the online fake news audience comprises a small, disloyal group of heavy internet users. 

Although other studies have shown the fake news audience to be smaller than many assumed, this is the the first to provide a theoretical explanation for why that has been the case. Here is the abstract for their study:

In light of the recent U.S. election, many fear that “fake news” has become a force of enormous reach and influence within the news media environment. In this study, we draw on well-established theories of audience behavior to argue that the online fake news audience, like most niche content, would be a small subset of the total news audience, especially those with high availability. We then examine online visitation data across mobile and desktop platforms in the months leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election, and indeed find that the fake news audience comprises a small, disloyal group of heavy internet users. We also find that social network sites play an outsized role in generating traffic to fake news. With this revised understanding, we revisit the democratic implications of the fake news crisis. 

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To see the full study, please visit this link. You can find Jake (@jnelz) and Harsh (@harsht) on Twitter as well.  

 

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