Social media and the spread of fake news: Could you call it out?

Jul 12, 2018 | Content marketing, Regulation, Social media

You can't deny the power of social media for enabling conversation like no other medium in history - but is it also responsible for the spread of fake news in our societies?

GoCompare have compiled a new study into the news stories that broke the internet before the fact checker got to them, including the most shared fake news of all time, and the social channels most guilty of sending falsities viral.

These stories garnered over five million shares on social media platforms, showing the scale of how quickly and easily people are influenced by false, clickbait stories.

Fake news has been highlighted as a ‘threat to democracy’ and damaging to cultural, social and political landscapes.

The interactive graphic reveals the power of fake news through social sharing.

With nearly 2.4 billion users on social media worldwide, the ability to share information has become easier than ever. Fake news influenced debate and international headlines after its ability to influence governments and individuals, particularly within the 2016 U.S Presidential elections.

What is Fake News?

Over the last two years, the term “fake news” has been described as a phenomenon that has dominated the recent debate. Described as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”, its popularity rose during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, with President Donald Trump using the term throughout his campaign to describe how the media were manipulating stories to create a political agenda against him.

The term became so popular, it has seen a rise of 365% in usage since 2016, with Collins adding the word to their dictionary and selecting it as the Word of the Year in 2017.

The Power of Fake News

Created by GoCompare, The Power of Fake News highlights ten of the most shared fake news stories across social platforms. The top ten were determined by the number of social media shares, engagements, Google results, and traffic for each article. Any engagements or shares that highlighted the story was fake has been removed from the data, meaning the numbers reflect genuine engagement with the story.

It also includes an interactive game which asks users to spot fake news stories from genuine news stories, that people may interpret as a hoax article because of its quirky headline.

Top 3 Fake News Stories

Donald Trump Won The Popular Vote – an argument comparing Trump and Clinton votes, claimed that Trump won the popular vote even though this was based on a flawed argument. The Federal Electoral Commission later revealed that Clinton actually won nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump. The article gained a huge amount of shares and engagements, and became one of the biggest fake news stories shared online.

Pope Francis Endorses Trump for President – an article claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump for presidency garnered over 901,351 shares in total. The article included a statement from the Vatican and claimed that a number of reputable news outlets had also broken the news. The article was found on WTOE 5 News, a site infamous for creating satirical content.

Black Lives Matter ‘Thugs’ Blocked Emergency Crews from Reaching Hurricane Victims – fuelling a controversial conversation about Black Lives Matter and the authorities, Land of the Free published an article claiming members of the movement had created a blockade against emergency to reach Hurricane Harvey victims. The website is also known for its satirical content and used an image from protests in Atlanta.

Aiming to tackle the dissemination of false news stories, GoCompare has also included top tips to help people identify fake news stories. This is after Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that fake news stories were 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter compared to genuine stories.

Researchers also found that news stories that were true took up to six times longer to reach 1,500 people. With social shares for genuine stories remaining below 1,000 shares, and fake stories reaching up to 100,000.

To view the full tool of the Power of Fake News, click here to discover more.