Only Conservatives Fall For Fake News Stories

NYT correctionThere has been much coverage of fake news stories and how they might have affected the election. Interestingly, the news site owners said that the only stories that went viral were pro-conservative ones.

He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it…. “We’ve tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You’ll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out.” Source.

He set up a website, posted gushing stories about Hillary Clinton and waited for ad sales to soar. “I don’t know why, but it did not work,” said the student, Beqa Latsabidze, 22, who was savvy enough to change course when he realized what did drive traffic: laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor. Source.

This agrees with Buzzfeed’s analysis of Facebook stories:

Of the 20 top-performing false election stories identified in the analysis, all but three were overtly pro-Donald Trump or anti-Hillary Clinton. (Source)

Another way to look at this is to say that conservatives are very attached to ideology, and will dismiss facts that don’t fit the theory. For example, I got into a long online discussion about supplying birth control to low-income people. My opponent was outraged at people getting something for nothing, despite the considerable social savings. This ideological bias explains conservatives’ narrower selection of news sources — eliminating information that contradicts their worldview is necessary to maintaining a coherent model.

Ideology is a form of morality, and Glen Greenwald makes the point that pragmatism is not always enough:

If, on a pragmatic level, the consequences of attacking Iraq had been different than what they were — if we had been able to invade and occupy relatively quickly and derive substantial material gain from doing so, including somehow making ourselves marginally “safer” — would that have made the Iraq War a just and desirable action?  Isn’t more than pragmatic calculation necessary to inform foreign policy decisions? (Source)

but ideology should be constructed from observations about how the world works, and when it is elevated to an axiom, it loses its authority.

 

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