The “fake election news stories” generated more total

The reason why I have decided to
use the 2016 US presidential election as my case study is because it is a clear
example of how online platforms, rather than acting as source of accurate information, frequently distribute
misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement. Moreover, it shows that social network companies like Facebook that
distribute media content hold the power over discourse and the capability to
shape our realities – a phenomena we have primarily attributed to news
producers in the newsroom. The proliferation of fake news during the election perfectly
highlighted this shift in news distribution and the role of Facebook as a
commercial service rather than a “neutral technology that merely enables user
activity”; a role which is difficult to reconcile with the one
of journalism as a social good. (Poell and Van Dijck, 2014).  As
my primary sources I have analysed a Buzzfeed News Analysis which found that top “fake election news stories” generated more
total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news
outlets combined (Silverman, 2016). Moreover, I have also looked at various academic
papers; the most relevant I found were “Selective Exposure to Misinformation: Evidence from the consumption of
fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign”, “Media Failures in the
Age of Trump” and “Don’t blame the
election on fake news. Blame it on the media.” The reason why I chose these
sources is because they all presented diverging views on my case study and this
allowed me to construct a more rounded argument. From these sources, I have
extrapolated three main key ideas: the news media’s extreme commercialism; Facebook’s
environment is ripe for the spread of disinformation and networked propaganda, and the crisis of journalism related
to the loss of control over distribution by mainstream media outlets. 


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