A recent study released by Stanford University measures just how much fake news is on Facebook and Twitter. However, the data had a built-in bias and slammed conservative content as “fake news.”
In the study, “Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media,” Hunt Allcott, Matthew Gentzkow, and Chuan Yu measured fake news on Facebook and Twitter from January 2015 to July 2018. The researchers claimed that they looked at 570 sites “that have been identified as producers of false stories.” However, the appendix listed the “50 Largest Fake News Sites” and included conservative outlets The Daily Wire, Independent Journal Review (IJR), the Daily Caller, Louder with Crowder, and conservative satire site The Babylon Bee.
These sites were compiled from research done by previous academic departments, as well as from Politifact, FactCheck.org, and Snopes. The researchers also relied on articles done by BuzzFeed.
One of the previous studies cited frequently in the piece was from Dartmouth College. The study, “Selective Exposure to Misinformation: Evidence from the consumption of fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, listed the Independent Journal Review (IJR) as the top “fake news” domain, followed closely by the Daily Wire.
The Stanford study also classified sites like The Root, a fringe left-wing website owned by Univision, as a “Major News Site,” and classified NPR.org as an “Arts” source. Several liberal outlets were listed as “Major News Sites,” including the Daily Beast and the Atlantic. Out of the 38 sites listed as “Major News Sites,” only 6 were conservative.
Stanford has received major funding from Google, especially since Google’s two founders were graduates of Stanford. ProPublica reported in 2014 that Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society received “generous funding” from the tech giant. In 2005, Stanford made $336 million from its stock in Google.
In an exclusive statement to the Media Research Center, Dr. Robert Epstein said, “Well, everyone is influenced by their funding, no matter what they say. But research shows that without a doubt ... the point is when you’re getting money, a lot of money, especially from a company like Google or Facebook, it has an impact on your work. And especially if you become dependent on those grants. And Google is supplying academic grants to hundreds of researchers and scholars. Very often, they publish articles which make Google look good, and they do so without disclosing the source of their funding.”