Fake news did not change result of 2016 election: study

Fake news did not change result of 2016 election: study
© Getty Images

Fake news did not change the result 2016 presidential election, according to a study by researchers at Stanford and New York University released Thursday. 

The study shows that fake news stories favorable to Republican nominee Donald Trump far outnumbered similar stories about Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2016 pollsters erred by not weighing education on state level, says political analyst Could President Trump's talk of a 'red wave' cause his supporters to stay home in midterms? Dem group targets Trump in M voter registration campaign: report MORE. But only 8 percent of voters actually read those stories, and even fewer recall or believed what they were reading, researchers said.

Favorable but fake Trump news was shared 30 million times on Facebook during the campaign, while fake pro-Clinton news was shared about 7 million times. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"Our data suggest that social media were not the most important source of election news and even the most widely circulated news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans,” lead researchers Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow wrote. 

In order for fake news to have a real effect on the election, it would have had to have been as persuasive as 36 television ads, the study concludes. 

Fake news became so prominent in 2016, Politifact named it "the lie of the year," a dubious award usually reserved for humans. 

"Because of its powerful symbolism in an election year filled with rampant and outrageous lying — PolitiFact is naming Fake News the 2016 'winner.'”