March 3, 2021

Left-leaning and centrist news publications get fewer clicks on Facebook if they publish false stories. But far-right publications experience the opposite, nabbing nearly twice as much Facebook engagement on stories classified as misinformation.

That's according to a new study out Wednesday, as reported by Wired. The researchers at the Cybersecurity for Democracy project at New York University found that not only are far-right publications unique in that they are seemingly rewarded for posting faulty information, they are receiving by far the most engagement compared to slightly right, center, slightly left, and far-left publications in general.

Every other type of news outlet suffers a "misinformation penalty" if they share false information. The analysis found that in the far left, slightly left, and center categories, credible stories saw between two and five times as much engagement as fake news. On the far-right, however, misinformation received 426 interactions per thousand followers in an average week, while credible far-right information received only 259 engagements. "Both those engagement numbers dwarf any other category," notes Wired.

Lead researcher Laura Edelson told Wired this could demonstrate what type of information users are steered toward on Facebook, since the platform's algorithms generally try to maximize engagement. A Facebook spokesperson, however, said the report "looks mostly at how people engage with content, which should not be confused with how many people actually see it on Facebook." Even though Facebook closely guards the specifics on its recommendation algorithms, this study still "provides perhaps the most substantial evidence yet about what types of news—and fake news—perform best," writes Wired. Summer Meza

April 21, 2020

The State Department believes anti-United States propaganda coming from Russia, Iran, and China has converged at an accelerated rate during the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reports.

A report produced by the department's Global Engagement Center found that while the three countries have pushed similar messages about the U.S. in the past, the campaigns were fairly narrow, focusing mostly on supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and criticizing the U.S. for bailing on international agreements. In the months since the pandemic surged, the State Department says there's been a lot more cohesion. Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran are propping up conspiracy theories accusing U.S. troops of spreading the virus, claiming China's response to the initial outbreak was strong (especially compared to U.S. negligence), and suggesting all three governments are managing the crisis well while the U.S. economy flounders.

Washington doesn't believe it's a coincidence since the Chinese Communist Party, normally stringent in their internet censorship, is allowing Russian disinformation to spread throughout the country. Lea Gabrielle, the head of the GEC, said Beijing "went from letting Russian disinformation claiming the U.S. was the source of the virus proliferate in Chinese social media, to raising questions on state media about the origin's source, to promoting disinformation that the U.S. was the source of the virus.” Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads