July 5, 2018

Did Facebook Really Polarize and Misinform the 2016 Electorate?



From Russian trolls to racist rhetoric, Facebook has been blamed for the divisive 2016 presidential election. Does Facebook direct users to diverse information or to fake news and ads that misinform, making us hate the other side? Michael Beam finds that Facebook users actually saw more information from the other political side in 2016; he finds no evidence that Facebook polarized our attitudes. But Young Mie Kim finds 2016 Facebook users saw lots of divisive misinformation from untraceable groups via ads. Facebook may just be the latest scapegoat for our polarized politics, but its stream of information is making it hard to sort fact from fiction.

The Niskanen Center’s Political Research Digest features up-and-coming researchers delivering fresh insights on the big trends driving American politics today. Get beyond punditry to data-driven understanding of today’s Washington with host and political scientist Matt Grossmann. Each 15-minute episode covers two new cutting-edge studies and interviews two researchers.

You can subscribe to the Political Research Digest on iTunes here.

Photo by MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock