News Shared On Facebook Falls Into 2 Distinct Categories: Study

News stories shared on Facebook fall into two categories, reflecting separate news environments, according to a recent study conducted at  Ohio State University. 

Published in the journal New Media & Society, the study identifies two types of publishers: those that publish fake news, and high credibility publishers such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. 

However, ideology plays less of a role than the credibility level in determining the types of coverage, according to a report on the study in Ohio State News

The research team had access to 2 million online news stories shared 100 or more times by Facebook users from February 2017 to April 2019.

Publishers qualified as low-credibility if they produced more than five articles that Facebook fact checkers deemed problematic. Examples included Breitbart News Network and Daily Kos.



Both types of publishers pushed out bursts of coverage at the same time, but the topics weren’t always the same.

High-credibility publishers featured varied coverage, whereas low-credibility ones were more likely to focus on stories about politics and the government.

One explanation for bursts appearing at the same time may be that some partisan news sites try to counteract negative news about their side by focusing on another topic, the study posited. 

Low-credibility publishers put out a burst of coverage on the same topic as their high-credibility counterparts only 40% of the time.

Topics drawing multiple bursts of coverage included Barack Obama’s family, the Trump organization, Medicaid, NASA and the Emmy Awards, to name a few. 

Again, credibility level was a defining factor. 

“We would expect conservative- and liberal-leaning publications to behave like other outlets that share their ideology, and they do,” says Kelly Garrett, senior author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University, according to Ohio State News.  
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