Fake news outperformed real news on Facebook in the last months of presidential race

Fake news outperformed real news on Facebook in the last months of presidential race
© Greg Nash

Fake election news stories outperformed real news stories on Facebook in the closing months of the presidential race, according to the analysis conducted by BuzzFeed News.

The publication compared top 20 fake and real election news articles that went viral between February and Election Day and measured their total number of Facebook engagements, which include likes, comments and shares.
 
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While real mainstream media articles outperformed fake news in the first few months of the presidential race, the trend began to reverse around July. 
 
Mainstream media articles began loosing popularity among Facebook users, steadily dropping from approximately 12 million engagements in February through April to only 7.3 million engagements in August through Election Day. 
 
What's more, BuzzFeed found that the fake news stories that generated close to 3 million Facebook engagements in February through April became more popular over time. Their engagement grew to 8.7 million in the final months of the contest, outperforming real news outlets by almost 1.5 million engagements. 
 
In recent months, Facebook has been under fire for not doing more to combat fake and satiric news articles that become viral on social media.
 
“We’ve actually spent a lot of time on News Feed trying to reduce [fake news and hoaxes’] prevalence in the ecosystem,” Adam Mosseri, who leads work on Facebook’s News Feed, said in September. 
 
“I think we’re doing now some more similar work on trending to improve the experience in a similar way,” he added.
 
A group Media Matters for America on Tuesday started a petition demanding that Facebook “acknowledge the problem of proliferation of fake news.”
 
The group added that “it’s high time that [CEO] Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook fix their fake news problem and address the fever swamp/cesspool of misinformation that Facebook has become.”
 
Zuckerberg has dismissed the accusations that false viral news articles could have impacted the election, but added that he cares deeply about addressing the problem.