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Trends in the diffusion of misinformation on social media

Sep 2018
Working Paper
18-029
By  Hunt Allcott, Matthew Gentzkow, Chuan Yu

We measure trends in the diffusion of misinformation on Facebook and Twitter between January 2015 and July 2018. We focus on stories from 570 sites that have been identified as producers of false stories. Interactions with these sites on both Facebook and Twitter rose steadily through the end of 2016. Interactions then fell sharply on Facebook while they continued to rise on Twitter, with the ratio of Facebook engagements to Twitter shares falling by approximately 60 percent. We see no similar pattern for other news, business, or culture sites, where interactions have been relatively stable over time and have followed similar trends on the two platforms both before and after the election.