Fake news and fact-checking websites both reach about a quarter of the population — but not the same quarter
The study reviewed web traffic collected with consent from a national sample of 2,525 Americans between Oct. 4 and Nov. 7, 2016. Fake news websites were found reach a relatively large audience, equivalent to 27.4 percent of the sample, with fact-checking websites close behind at 25.3 percent. These two groups overlap only in part, as 13.3 percent of the sample visited fake news websites but not fact-checking websites. Moreover, none of the users who saw a specific fake news story was then reached by its related fact check. The study also found that Facebook was a key channel for misinformation to spread, likely accounting for about one fifth of traffic to fake news websites.