Facebook’s efforts to reduce misinformation in its news feed since the 2016 election have opened the company to all manner of criticism, including allegations of political bias from both left and right. But a new study from researchers at Stanford University, New York University, and Microsoft Research suggests they might actually be working—at least, to some extent.
The study, released as a working paper Friday afternoon, examines how Facebook and Twitter users interacted with articles from 570 sites that have been identified by at least one credible source as a purveyor of “fake news”—that is, patently false, intentionally misleading, or hyperpartisan content. It finds that engagement on stories from those sites rose steadily on both Facebook and Twitter until shortly after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Beginning in early 2017, however, those sites’ engagement began to drop off on Facebook—even as it kept rising on Twitter.