Jan 31, 2017 12:09 PM EST
A study by Stanford and New York University may have found that, while fake news did get a lot of attention during the 2016 US presidential election, it did not help Donald Trump win. The impact of fake news on the election appears to have been greatly exaggerated.
Quartz reported that there are people who think that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump because the latter was said to have had the power of fake news on his side. However, a study from economists at Stanford University and New York University has debunked that notion.
The study by New York University's Hunt Allcott and Stanford's Matthew Gentzkow found that fake news was "widely shared and tilted in favor of Donald Trump" but the readers' exposure and retention of the false stories may have been overstated. The researchers used web browsing data as well as survey responses and compared actual fake news in circulation to "placebo" stories that they invented.
It was revealed that Americans remembers 0.92 fake news that favored Donald Trump while remembered only 0.23 in favor of Hillary Clinton. A single false article would have needed the persuasive power of 36 television campaign ads to make an impact on the election.
It was also found that social media played a significant role as a source of news for the election. TV is still the most dominant source, though. Cable TV and network TV took the top two spots with 23.5 and 19.2 percent, respectively.
False stories that favored Trump were shared 30 million times on Facebook while stories favoring Clinton were shared eight million times. Speaking to Vox, Gentzkow confirmed that majority of fake news is produced and posted on small websites that "do not have a significant presence other than producing political stories that get shared on Facebook and other forms of social media."
The Stanford economist believed that there are a lot of pro-Trump stories because it may have been more successful in getting clicked on and generating ad revenue. Gentzkow admitted that it was not at all surprising since people liked to read about Donald Trump due to his controversial character.
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