Junk news is a negative disruptor within the communications landscape.
Spreading fear, misinforming citizens and feeding prejudices, it is a cancer destroying democratic systems and political credibility worldwide. Research undertaken by the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, reveals that in the run up to the US midterm elections, a quarter of shared content on social media platforms can be labelled junk news, contrasting with the 19% shared by professional news outlets; the first time bullshit has trumped the mainstream outlets.
To counter its destructive effect, a Junk News Aggregator, developed via Oxford’s Computational Propaganda project, offers an informative tool to highlight what is, and what isn’t, fake news.
“This is a novel tool for studying junk news on Facebook as it happens. The user-friendly Aggregator makes visible the quantity and content of junk news, as well as the level of engagement. Users can search keywords, such as candidate names and districts, to reveal what is being shared, in real time as well as up to a month in the past. We want to shed light on the problem of junk news, and help improve the public’s media literacy. We hope to make this issue more transparent to voters, policy-makers, and tech companies,” said Mimie Liotsiou, researcher and creator of the Junk News Aggregator.