Survey finds unsolicited fake news might not be a big Facebook problem

While Facebook remains the dastardly social media villain of choice in terms of its propensity to serve up misleading views dressed up as news, it may be time to reassess just how responsible it is for the deeply polarised political perspectives people are subscribing to nowadays.

An experiment by prominent journalism commenter, Laura Hazard Owen, has questioned just how much fake news and partisan opinion Facebookers are being served in reality.

Her admittedly small and very localised look at the Facebook feeds of 173 adults in the US seems to point to the fact that the top 10 items appearing leans toward the innocuous and cutesy rather than evil and democracy busting.

We all know that Facebook logarithms work to serve up the content that people are most engaging with, and Owen says that is not likely to be news.

Enticing people to send in screen grabs from the top of their feeds through the politically explosive month of October, she received clean data from 173 respondents and found that the 1,730 posts surveyed were only lightly dotted with news, with most of it coming from mainstream sources.

In fact, 54 per cent of respondents didn’t reveal any news in the top of their Facebook feeds. And, she insists, she found no completely fake news items at all.

Most frequently seen news outlets in Facebook feeds by small US-based surveyOf the feeds that did carry news, CNN was the top provider, and partisan sites such as Fox News, The Western Journal  and the One America News Network appeared in the mid to lower placings.

While this small survey is in no way a definitive or international study on news in Facebook feeds, it may signal a need to move on from worrying what news, true or fake, people are receiving in Facebook on an unsolicited basis, and direct the greater efforts of fake news warriors toward that which people are actively seeking out.

But then, who really thought that stumbling across a random piece of fake news was ever going to convert even a gullible soul to the Q side? It takes a conjunction of stimuli to make a conspiracy theorist and so the easy access of a plethora of mind-distorting propaganda and brainwashing that can be found by those actively seeking it should perhaps be the target of greater scrutiny?

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