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Democrats and Republicans consume very different news content on Facebook, researcher says

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12/10/19 - BOSTON, MA. - Stock photography of Facebook on an iPhone on Dec. 10, 2019. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
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A Northeastern University professor examining political news consumption on Facebook during the 2020 election season says liberals and conservatives get very different news, and much more exclusively conservative content exists than content tailored to liberals. Perhaps most striking in the research, 97% of the items labeled as misinformation came from the political right.

“This tells us that news consumption on Facebook is highly segregated, meaning that Democrats and Republicans consume very different content and that this is substantially driven by pages and groups rather than user-to-user context,” says David Lazer, a University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences at Northeastern University. “It also shows that of the content labeled misinformation, far more of it had conservative audiences rather than liberal audiences.”

Lazer was a co-lead on a paper that analyzed exposure to political news during the 2020 election, using aggregated data for 208 million adult Facebook users in the U.S. The research used Facebook’s classifier to predict the user’s political ideology as well as the platform’s classifier to identify political or civic content. 

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