Trump supporters are particularly susceptible to fake news, new study says

Donald Trump supporters with phones.
(Image credit: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

A new study suggests that extreme hard right conservatives and supporters of President Trump share more fake news on social media than other ideological groups. Researchers from Oxford University's Project on Computational Propaganda studied three months' worth of recent social media data and found that, on Twitter and Facebook, groups categorized as the "Trump Support Group" and the "Hard Conservative Group" shared more than half of all the fake news the study uncovered. While the research indeed demonstrates that other groups also spread dubious reports, this occurs "at much lower levels."

The researchers defined news as being "fake" based on its adherence — or lack thereof — to journalistic standards, its partisan skew, its use of fake sources, and occurrences of forgery. They then categorized more than 10,000 Facebook and 13,000 Twitter users into various groups based on their location, positive interactions with specific news stories (Twitter faves or Facebook likes), and their interactions with other users.

The findings show that unfounded reports and headlines were most prolific on Twitter, where the "Trump Support Group" shared 55 percent of all the fake news, while "Democratic Party" and "Progressive Movement" groups accounted for 1 percent by comparison. On Facebook, the "Hard Conservative Group" accounted for 58 percent of fake news; Democratic affiliated users tallied around 12 percent.

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But hard right conservatives aren't the only culprits here. "Resistance" groups — aka hardline anti-Trumpers — spread 18 percent of Twitter's junk news, the research found.

Read the full study here.

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