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Newsonomics: In Memphis’ unexpected news war, The Daily Memphian’s model demands attention
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Nov. 6, 2019, 12:30 p.m.

Facebook says it has a handle on fake news around the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but a new report from the global activist group Avaaz suggests its efforts might be a drop in the bucket: Avaaz found that election-related misinformation on the platform has increased in the past three months and was viewed 86 million times during that period. That’s up from the prior three-month period, and “what is surprising is that the surge of disinformation affecting 2020 is happening much earlier than the 2016 election,” an Avaaz rep told Vice News. The most viral fake stories also appear to be reaching more people now, in 2019, than fake news did in the three months leading up to the 2016 election.

For this research, Avaaz used a relatively restricted definition of fake news, looking at the top 100 stories shared on Facebook between January 1 and October 31; all were stories that “had already been fact-checked and debunked by reputable U.S. fact-checking organizations at the time of our study.” Ninety-one percent of the stories were negative, and “the study found that most negative misinformation (62%) was about Democrats or liberals,” writes Judd Legum in Popular Information. “Positive fake news was much rarer (9%), and 100% was about Republicans or conservatives.”

The top story, however, was an anti-Trump story.

After that, the other top fake news stories, in order of views, were:

2. “Nancy Pelosi diverting Social Security money for the impeachment inquiry”

3. “AOC proposed a motorcycle ban”

4. “Trump is now trying to get Mike Pence impeached”

5. “Ilhan Omar holding secret fundraisers with Islamic groups tied to terror”

6. “Nancy Pelosi’s son was exec at gas company that did business In Ukraine”

7. “Democrats vote to enhance med care for illegals now, vote down vets waiting 10 Years for same service”

8. “Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website”

9. “NYC coroner who declared the death of Jeffrey Epstein a suicide made half a million dollars a year working for the Clinton Foundation until 2015”

10. “Joe Biden calls Trump supporters ‘dregs of society'”

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