New Study by Digital New Deal Finds Engagement with Deceptive Outlets Higher on Facebook Today Than Run-up to 2016 Election

Kornbluh, Karen; Goldstein, Adrienne; Weiner, Eli

Four years ago, the country was learning about disinformation and the impact it can have on U.S. (and world) elections. Since then, social media platforms have taken various steps to combat it with varying success.

Over the last few months, the Digital New Deal project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States set out to look at deceptive sites that masquerade as journalism. We had identified these in our Roadmap for Securing Digital Democracy as “trojan horses”: sites that take on the appearance of news sites and launder disinformation while eschewing the practices of independent journalism (e.g., sourcing, mastheads, verification, corrections). These sites degrade democratic debate by leveraging platform design to boost conspiracies.

We found that the level of engagement with articles from outlets that repeatedly publish verifiably false content has increased 102 percent since the run-up to the 2016 election.