Facebook posts from misinformation sources get 6 times more engagement than reputable news sites, new study says

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Facebook posts from misinformation sources get 6 times more engagement than reputable news sites, new study says
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • Publishers of misinformation on Facebook got six times more engagement than factual news, a new study says.
  • Facebook said engagement, which includes likes and shares, does not show how many people saw a post.
  • Facebook doesn't let researchers study how many people have seen individual posts.

A new peer-reviewed study suggests misinformation on Facebook gets six times more attention than factual posts.

As first reported by The Washington Post, the study, which was conducted by researchers at New York University (NYU) and the Université Grenoble Alpes, reviewed posts put out by more than 2,500 Facebook pages from August 2020 to January 2021.

The study found that posts from sources known for putting out misinformation got six times more likes, shares, and interactions on the platform compared to posts from more reputable news sources.

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The same study found misinformation on both ends of the political spectrum gets more engagement, but far-right publishers put out more misinformation than far-left ones overall.

Read more: This startup works with Facebook and Google to steer internet users away from misinformation. Get an exclusive look at the pitch deck it used to land $7 million from VCs.

Responding to the study, a Facebook spokesperson told Insider in a statement that the report looked mostly at how people engage with content from Facebook Pages, "which represents a very tiny amount of all content" on the platform.

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"Engagement should also not be confused with how many people actually see it on Facebook," the spokesperson's statement continued. "When you look at the content that gets the most reach across Facebook, it is not at all like what this study suggests, as shown in our widely-viewed content report and in studies of the Social Science One condor data set."

Facebook blocked NYU researchers' access to its data last month, claiming the way they were collecting data conflicted with a settlement it had previously reached with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC denied the settlement mandated Facebook block researchers.

Although the block was enacted against a separate study being done by NYU researchers into political ads, Laura Edelson, the lead researcher on the NYU misinformation study, told CNN it had affected her research too.

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