Skip to Content
Tech policy

Junk news on social media is shared predominantly by the right wing

February 6, 2018

Analyzing the dynamics of online political news sharing shows that there’s an ideological pattern to who’s spreading the bad stuff.

The study: Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute monitored 13,500 politically active US Twitter users and 48,000 public Facebook pages for the three months ahead of the recent State of the Union address. They then studied how political news that was extremist, sensationalist, conspiratorial, fake, or otherwise characteristic of “junk” got shared.

The results: On Twitter, a core of Trump supporters shared “the widest range of known junk news sources” and circulated “more junk news than all the other groups put together.” On Facebook, extreme hard-right pages (not Republican pages) achieved a similar feat.

Why it matters: Fake news remains a huge headache for social networks and political leaders. A better understanding of how it’s shared could help clean it up.

Deep Dive

Tech policy

How to preserve your digital memories

Following recent announcements by Google and Twitter, more data deletion policies are coming.

Your digital life isn’t as permanent as you think it is

Google will delete accounts after two years of inactivity, and experts expect more data deletion policies to come

Catching bad content in the age of AI

Why haven’t tech companies improved at content moderation?

How to hack a smart fridge

Your smart home devices know more about you than you might think—and they’re less secure than you’d hope.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.