Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The enduring allure of conspiracies
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Nov. 23, 2020, 11:25 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   November 23, 2020

How much political news do people see in their Facebook feeds? Last week, we published our project to try to answer that question. The majority of people in our survey (54%) saw no news within the first 10 posts in their feeds at all. The most common type of news in the sample was hard news from mainstream publishers.

I got a good question from Nieman Lab reader and contributor Dan Kennedy: “Were you looking only at stories from news organizations popping up in someone’s news feed? Or were you also counting friends who share news stories?” I should have been more clear about that in the original post, which is now updated: I was counting all the news stories I saw, no matter the source.

Of the 173 news posts in our sample, 49% were shared by the stories’ original publishers and 38% were shared by friends/family/public pages that the respondent followed (for instance, the Blue Lives Matter page sharing a link from Police Tribune). I wasn’t able to categorize a handful of posts, and 9 were from the “Suggested for you” Facebook feature.

Thirty-four percent of respondents answered “No” to the question “Do you ever check Facebook for news?” But two-thirds of the people in that group also followed at least one news organization, and news got into their feeds that way: They saw a total of 63 news articles shared directly by publishers and 17 articles shared by friends or other pages.

Sixty-six percent of respondents answered “Yes” to the question “Do you ever check Facebook for news?” Ninety-four percent of the people in that group followed at least one news organization (and 10% followed more than 10 news organizations). That group saw a total of 59 articles shared by news publishers and 49 articles shared by friends.

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