This report analyzes language that PolitiFact has published about Democrats and Republicans to see how the organization has framed speakers from both parties. It used automated text analysis on approximately 10,000 articles dating back to 2007, with the bulk of them between 2010 and 2017. Divided by party, there are about 1.4 times as many articles about Republicans as Democrats, and the fact-checking project typically assigns more true ratings to the latter and more false ratings to the former. But, when broken up by the top article tags on PolitiFact's website, the researchers concluded that the fact-checking project's coverage was pretty balanced and did not include excess negative or positive words for either group.
In this study, Zhang explores how WeChat, a private messaging platform popular among Chinese citizens and expatriates, has become a key source of U.S. political misinformation. Using data from a survey with 407 U.S.-based Chinese WeChat users, the author identified and analyzed the top sources for American political news on WeChat. Then, Zhang analyzed articles from those sources published between January and November 2017. What she found was that, while many popular web hoaxes in the U.S. deal with jobs, the economy and healthcare, many of the ones on WeChat deal with issues like affirmative action or illegal immigration. That disparity, as well as the fact that there’s a low barrier to entry for new publishers, allows misinformation to go unchecked.
In this study, the author analyzed how fact-checking affected the rhetoric of presidential candidates in the 2012 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections. What she found was that, once a fact-checking organization rated a politician’s claim false, that politician was 9.5 percent less likely to repeat the claim. She found her results were especially pronounced for the 2016 campaign, with Hillary Clinton dropping false claims with a 14.5 percent probability and Donald Trump with a 9.2 percent probability. However, it's also possible that politicians could have repeated some fact-checked claims on social media or in speeches that weren't analyzed.
This high-level review looks at all the major scientific literature on the relationship between social media, political polarization and disinformation. The paper is broken up into six sections: online political conversations, consequences of exposure to disinformation and propaganda in online settings, producers of disinformation, strategies and tactics of spreading disinformation through online platforms, online content and political polarization and how misinformation and polarization affect American democracy. Taken together, the paper — whose works cited section is nearly a fourth of its length — is an expansive look at the literature on misinformation, but the authors identify several key areas for further research. These include: better measures of the effects of misinformation exposure, multi-platform research, misinformation in images, the generalizability of U.S. findings, the effect of ideology on responses to misinformation, laws against spreading misinformation, better understanding of bots and the role of political elites in spreading misinformation.