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Facebook users - half a point closer to the truth
The influence of social networks on political opinion-formation is overestimated, a study suggests. This is especially true for Facebook. For the US election of 2016, the study shows that increased use of social networks has led to greater vulnerability for Fake News. the Jan pivot cups

The Pope supports Donald Trump, North Korea is Christian, and the canadian television proves, that Angela Merkel of Germany hates? The debate over Fake News like this has become in the past few years, enormously loud. The focus is on the social networks, where the false reports spread particularly well, which is why Facebook, Twitter and co. more and more often as a threat to democracy to be seen.

as early as 2016, wrote the New York Times, millions of people have already fallen for Fake News Stories from Social Media sites. In fact, however, the influence of social networks - especially Facebook seems to be on the political formation of opinion overrated. The one in the journal Plos One published a study of the communication scholar Kelly Garrett, a Professor at the Ohio State University.

the connection between Social Media use and the vulnerability to a Fake News, evaluated Garrett, the data of several surveys, which were carried out during the US presidential elections in 2012 and 2016. Several Hundred Americans had indicated how frequently they used social networks.

falsehoods about Muslims and violence

in 2012, you were interviewed in addition to four false messages about the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney: If you had heard the statements before, and if so, for how true this thought. 91 percent of respondents had heard, therefore, the rumor that Obama was a Muslim. 29 percent of them thought the statement was probably or even definitely true. In the election of 2016, the respondents ' statements about the campaigns of the candidates had to evaluate. About: "The majority of Muslims support violence against Western countries, including the United States," or: "immigrants commit more violent crime than the US-born persons." To be clear: Both are wrong.

Garrett analysed whether those people who spent more time in the social networks, believed more falsehoods. For the data of 2012, he observed a very active Social Media users were rather incorrect statements about Obama to be true. The effect, however, was very small. In the most extreme case, the Users were on a Five-point scale, half a point more in the direction of untruth. For the election of 2016, the study shows that an increase in the use of social networks has led to greater vulnerability for Fake News. A lot of users were often logged in to Facebook, a half a point closer to the truth than those spent in other networks of their time. "The magnitude of the effect is small," writes Garrett, but it is questioning the assumption that Facebook had a unique impact on the elections.

had Previously shown in the journal Nature published a study that a quarter of all Twitter-linked-to posts from the last US election to messages that were completely or largely untrue. However, users seem to be only due to the wrong messages to come in contact with. And even if, the influence on opinion is small. Reassuring these findings for Kelly Garrett, however, are not: "We know that Americans are not represented with frightening regularity Beliefs that are true," he says. "And if Social Media is not the main reason, we should really invest more energy to find out what else is on this."

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