Concern about “fake news” is rampant. Unfortunately, not much is actually know about their impact on their audience’s behavior. Northwestern University researcher Jacob Nelson, a PhD candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program, recently published in New Media & Society a study examining audience data in the months leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election. Their study suggests that the online fake news audience comprises a small, disloyal group of heavy internet users.
Although other studies have shown the fake news audience to be smaller than many assumed, this is the the first to provide a theoretical explanation for why that has been the case.