The News About Fake News Is Fake

His article caught my eye because whereas the NYTimes piece talked about older people sharing more fake news, Quentin adds that it’s about Republican older people. And that I find hard to believe. At least without proof; I wouldn’t want to jump to such conclusions based on fake news. Let’s see how far I can get:

Why Republican Baby Boomers Are More Likely To Share #Fakenews On Facebook

So why are Republican baby boomers more likely to share fake news on Facebook? One theory: As they didn’t grow up with technology, they may be more susceptible to being fooled.

That one sentence says a lot about this entire ‘study’. It even sounds fake to me. Because while I can see the “less exposed to tech” issue to an extent, I see no reason why Republican baby boomers would be fooled more easily by technology than their Democrat peers.

[..] Andrew Guess, an associate professor at Princeton University, and his colleagues disseminated an online survey to 3,500 people in three waves throughout the 2016 campaign. Of the respondents, 1,331 in the initial wave agreed to share their Facebook profile data, which allowed researchers to analyze the age and political affiliations of those people who were more likely to spread fake news.

The results showed that 90% of these users actually did not share misleading or fake articles and only 8.5% shared one or more fake news articles. A plurality, 18%, of the Facebook users who shared the fake stories were both self-identified Republicans and over the age of 65, the authors concluded, and these individuals shared nearly seven times as many fake news articles as respondents in the youngest age group, ranging in age from 18 to 29.

I had to look at this a few times. Here’s what I think it says:

• They ‘studied’ 3,500 people in 3 waves, of which the initial one was larger than 1,331 people, since that is the segment of the first wave who shared their Facebook data (we assume not all did).

• 90% of these 1,331, or 1,198 people, shared nothing at all (no fake news).

• 8.5% of the 1,331, or 114 people, did share fake news stories. 18% of those 114 (so 18% of 8.5%), or 20 people, were self-identified Republicans over the age of 65.

• Therefore 20 people out of 3,500, or 0.57%, were older Republicans who shared fake news (as it was defined by the survey). There are probably even more people in that target group suffering from dementia than the 0.57% who shared fake news. So what are we looking at here?

You could argue that it’s really 20 people out of 1,331, but that’s still only 1.5%. Meaningless.

• These 20 people shared 7 times as many fake news pieces as young people. That may be true, but they also shared more than 99.43% of people their own age. Does this still mean anything at all to you?

Quentin delights us with some more data;

Another possible explanation: Older Americans may have felt particularly passionate and entrenched in their political views and, therefore, ideological. For instance, the most ideological members of Congress shared news stories on their Facebook pages more than twice as often as moderate legislators between Jan. 2, 2015, and July 20, 2017, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, which examined all official Facebook posts created by and for members of Congress in this period.

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Comments

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Gary Anderson 5 months ago Contributor's comment

Fascinating. But things are muddled by history. So, people of both parties know that some conspiracies are proven. What was tin foil yesterday could be true today. Take the case of COINTELPRO, the effort by the FBI to infiltrate and turn violent the peace movement in the 60's. It was not taken seriously until some brave souls raided an FBI office and found the plan on the premises! Even the courts sided with the raiders, not the FBI. Then there are all the conspiracies and false flags not proven in court. Some may be true and some not and some we may never know at least in this life. JFK assassination, 9/11, Sandy Hook, Obama's place of birth, etc, etc. When the government could be lying, as in COINTELPRO, then determining what fake news is is not so simple anymore. You can't break into the FBI anymore, IMO. As for Trump, we have to wait for Mueller to sort it out. We know many of Trump's cronies have been convicted. If that migrates to Trump himself remains to be seen. Maybe just charging his son and son in law will be enough to unnerve POTUS, and the movie could continue on a different path if that happens. But we don't even know if that will happen. As of now, it is fake news. Down the road it may be real news.

Angry Old Lady 5 months ago Member's comment

Good article which highlights one of the problems with #fakenews - they don't really care if they get outed or not. As long as it generates pageviews, that's all they wanted.

Gary Anderson 5 months ago Contributor's comment

Yes, the economic benefits of fake news is massive. The left does it, but Fox News has lying written into its DNA. And it leads the ratings for the cult of Trump, continually.

Barry Hochhauser 5 months ago Member's comment

And even after fake news has been exposed as fake, countless people still believe it.