The small, disloyal fake news audience: The role of audience availability in fake news consumption

Jacob L. Nelson, Harsh Taneja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

In light of the recent US election, many fear that “fake news” has become a force of enormous reach and influence within the news media environment. We draw on well-established theories of audience behavior to argue that the online fake news audience, like most niche content, would be a small subset of the total news audience, especially those with high availability. By examining online visitation data across mobile and desktop platforms in the months leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election, we indeed find the fake news audience comprises a small, disloyal group of heavy Internet users. We also find that social network sites play an outsized role in generating traffic to fake news. With this revised understanding, we revisit the democratic implications of the fake news crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3720-3737
Number of pages18
JournalNew Media and Society
Volume20
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • 2016 Elections
  • Audience Availability
  • Audience Fragmentation
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Elections
  • Fake News
  • Mobile Internet
  • News Audience
  • Social Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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