According to The Washington Post, a new peer-reviewed study by researchers from New York University and the Universite Grenoble Alpes in France shows that misinformation received six times more engagement on Facebook than real news.
The study examined posts on Facebook pages from more than 2,500 news media publishers between August 2020 to January 2021. Researchers discovered that pages posting more misinformation received more likes and shares. The increased engagement was evident across all political spectrums. Still, the study revealed that “publishers on the right have a higher propensity than publishers in other categories to share misleading information,” according to The Washington Post.
The researchers will share the study as part of the 2021 Internet Measurement Conference, November. However, it may be made public before that, Laura Edelson, a researcher at, tells.
FACEBOOK MAINTAINS ONLY LOOK AT ENGAGEMENT.
A Facebook spokesperson informed the Post that the study does not consider engagement. This is because the study does not include “reach”, which is the term used by the company to describe how many people view a piece on Facebook regardless of whether or not they interact with it.
Researchers are not allowed to access reach data from Facebook. They and other researchers interested in understanding and quantifying the misinformation problem on social media platforms, including those from these research groups, have used CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool.
But in August, Facebook cut off this group of researchers’ access to this data (as well as to the library of political ads on the platform). Facebook said that continuing to give third-party researchers access to the data could violate a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that it entered into following the Cambridge Analytica scandal — a claim the FTC said was “inaccurate.”
CrowdTangle was the tool Kevin Roose, a New York Times tech columnist, used to create lists of posts that received the most engagement on Facebook. This practice reportedly angered top employees because it was dominated by right-wing pages posting a lot of misinformation.
To bat down claims that misinformation is a problem on Facebook, the company released a “transparency report” in August that laid out the most-viewed posts on the platform during the second quarter of the year, from April to June. The New York Times announced that Facebook had abandoned plans to publish a report on the first quarter. This was because the article linking the coronavirus vaccine and the death of a Florida doctor was incorrectly linked. Many right-wing websites used this Post to doubt the effectiveness of the vaccines.