Donald Trump

A recent study conducted by the Computational Propaganda Project at the University of Oxford has determined that President Donald Trump supporters spread “junk news” on social media platforms at a higher rate than any other political coalition.

The study, published on Tuesday, demonstrates that while junk news sites operate across the political spectrum, they are most popular among Trump supporters. The researchers determined what qualifies as a “junk news site” by evaluating media outlets on five factors: professionalism, style, quality, bias, and counterfeit. The full list of sites is available here.

After defining the junk news sites, researchers collected a dataset of 13,477 Twitter users and 47,719 Facebook users, all of which had expressed political preferences. Then, they used a machine learning algorithm to sort the users into political coalitions, based on how much the users interacted with each other and with similar content.

The researchers ended up with 10 different political groups on Twitter, and 13 different political groups on Facebook. On Twitter, the largest group was the anti-Trump “Resistance,” which was made up of 27 percent of the sample. The “Trump Supporters” group made up 14 percent of the sample.

twitter
Visualization of the sample of Twitter users. Each node represents a Twitter account, and the size of the nodes is based on their follower count.

But while the Resistance only shared 18 percent of the content created by junk news sites, Trump Supporters shared 55 percent — more than the rest of the groups combined.

On Facebook, the “Hard Conservative” group was most culpable for the proliferation of junk news, sharing 58 percent of the junk news. The “Democratic Party” came in second with 12 percent.

See the full study here.