Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Thompson Library, Room 165
Concern has grown since the 2016 election about the prevalence of online misinformation in American politics and the ways social media has potentially exacerbated its reach and influence. Using unique behavioral data measuring online exposure, we estimate that approximately 1 in 4 Americans visited a fake news website in the period before the 2016 election but only about 1 in 10 did so in 2018. Within these groups, most consumption of fake news in both elections was concentrated among a small group of people with heavily skewed information diets. As a result, little credible evidence exists that fake news changed people’s minds or votes. However, survey evidence demonstrates that Americans frequently believe headlines from fake and hyperpartisan news websites, especially when they seem to reinforce our political point of view.
Brendan Nyhan is Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy of the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Duke University. Before joining the faculty at Michigan, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research there and a faculty member in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His research primarily focuses on misperceptions about politics and health care. He is a contributor to The Upshot blog at The New York Times and a co-founder of Bright Line Watch, a watchdog group that monitors the status of American democracy. Previously, he was co-editor of Spinsanity, a non-partisan watchdog of political spin that was syndicated in Salon and the Philadelphia Inquirer; co-author of All the President’s Spin, a New York Times bestseller that Amazon.com named one of the ten best political books of 2004; and a media critic for Columbia Journalism Review.
If you have questions about accessibility or wish to request accommodations please contact Aly McCarthy at email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Typically, a two week notice will allow us to provide seamless access.