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Communications & Media
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How Fake News From Social Media Has Shaped The American Politics (Research Paper Sample)

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the task was to examine How fake news from social media has shaped the American politics: the case of 2016 Presidential Elections. this paper gives an empirical and theoretical basis to outline this discussion. The first emphasis of this study is on the economics of false information. To achieve this, a model of media markets is sketched whereby facilities collect and vend signals of globe's true situation to consumers who gain from deducing that situation

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How fake news from social media has shaped the American politics: the case of 2016 Presidential Elections
Introduction and Literature
With social media being compulsory for a true democracy, the coverage quality has however changed the role of traditional news sources. This has been demonstrated in the 2016 US elections as a result of the technological changes and the accessibility of social network sites (SNS) dialogue. The extensive utilization of scandal by the media has offered basis for news coverage across social sites, enabling users to change the forms of coverage initially facilitated by the traditional news media. The variations in media technology have constantly buffeted the American democracy. The traditional media began its diversification in early 2000s, where online news instigated a fresh set of concerns, including intemperance diversity of perceptions simplifying the ability of concurring citizens to create “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” where they would be cut-off from differing perceptions (Pariser 2011).
Of late, the concern focus has been moved to social media. Social media platforms like twitter and Facebook possess outstandingly dissimilar structure compared to the traditional media technologies. These platforms have facilitated the relaying of information among users without major filtering, authenticity checking or editorial opinions from a third party. During the 2016 US elections, a key concern evident from the campaign period through the Election Day has been the impact of ‘fake news’ spreading on social media (Gottfried and Shearer, 2016). Various researchers have opined how this fake news highly influenced the 2016 Elections and highly supported the Republican candidate compared to the Democrat candidate, thereby contributing to the election of President Donald Trump (Dewery 2016; Parkinson 2016; Read 2016).
Based on this argument, the present study intends to give an empirical and theoretical basis to outline this discussion. The first emphasis of this study is on the economics of false information. To achieve this, a model of media markets is sketched whereby facilities collect and vend signals of globe’s true situation to consumers who gain from deducing that situation. In this study, fake news has been conceptualized as distorted signals not correlated with the truth. Fake news are mostly symmetrical since it is affordable to facilitate compared to major signals, for the reason that consumers fail to affordably deduce precision, and the reason that consumers tend to prefer partisan news. While fake news tend to create utility for some consumers, it equally inflicts social and private expenses by complicating the process of consumers to infer the globe’s true state- for instance complicating the process of voters to infer their electoral candidate of choice.
The existing studies on the issue of fake news cover diverse facets. While the literature on 2016 US election covered in this study is quite scarce, the concepts utilized have been widely examined and built upon. According to Allcott and Gentzkow (2017), education has been termed a key player in civic participation. The individuals in the current generation take part in elections as their democratic rights in different ways in comparison to the preceding generations courtesy of internet arrival. According to Pariser (2011), it is important for High school and college tutors to come up with a learning environment that endorses civic learning in order to make the young people become aware of their democratic rights and how to distinguish fake news from genuine news while acquiring information about their preferred candidates.
To fully understand the impact of social media on the political arena, this study discusses the significance of social media as pertains to sources of political information and news. This study takes into consideration the level of American adults who sought social media sites as the primary source of electoral process information. In addition, this study intends to verify whether fake news played a key role in determining the election outcome between the Democrat and republican Candidates. This has will be achieved by estimating the total number of fake stories spread through social media. Besides that, this study offers several standards of the level at which social media exposed the voters to fake news. In addition, this study examines the implication of valid versus fake news headlines from the data surveyed. The key variables examined include age, education and total media use as they are highly correlated with more precise beliefs concerning the veracity of such headlines. Finally, the study offers a discussion of the probable effects of fake news on the voters’ voting patterns by considering the 2016 presidential elections in the United States, while offering the key measures to be implemented in alleviating any negative effects of fake news.
The following hypotheses will be tested in this study:
H1: The electors were subjected to fake stories and misinformation some months prior the US election
H2: The rate of occurrence of these fake stories, despite the authenticity escalated belief in them
H3: The electors felt a sense of helplessness and lack of interest about stopping spread of fake news
To achieve all these, this study addresses the following research questions a) How can fake news be distinguished from distorted or biased media quite broadly?
b) How deep did the electors accept any of the key fake news revolving around the 2016 Presidential elections in the USA?
c) Why and how often do electors view and share false information online?
d) Can social media users aid in stopping spread of fake news?
e) How has fake news from social media shaped our political society and political engagement?
Methods and Data
This section describes the survey data considered in addressing the aforementioned research questions. To fully answer the above questions and test the research hypotheses, both quantitative and qualitative research designs have been considered. To begin with, we conduct a quantitative assessment of electors’ subjection to and credence in false news. This is followed by qualitatively analyzing the reactions, feelings, and self-disclosed behaviors of the voters. This chapter seeks to acquire in-depth information concerning the impact of fake news on political inclinations and decision making. The main techniques considered in collecting data for the study included use of Survey Monkey in acquiring the quantitative raw data concerning the exposure levels and belief in social media news. The qualitative data were collected by using questionnaires and all analyzed using MS Office excel program. The collected data were exported to MS Office excel program and correlation function considered in estimating the correlation between the level of repeated exposure and belief.
The participants were given some 5 news headlines posted on Facebook social media platform within the period of early August and early November. Two headlines here were fake stories while three were true. These headlines includes as follows (source: Buzzfeed, 2016)
The following headlines (Buzzfeed, 2016) were shown to the respondents:
Headline

False

True

“Donald Trump Voters, Just Hear Me Out”




“More Than 160 Republican Leaders Don’t Support Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point”




“Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one”?




“Clinton Cash: Khizr Khan’s Deep Legal, Financial Connections to Saudi Arabia, Hillary’s Clinton Foundation Tie Terror, Immigration, Email Scandals Together”




“Billy Graham Issues STUNNING Statement on Donald Trump…No One Expected THIS!”







Table 1: various headlines given to participants (source: Buzzfeed, 2016)
The initial survey question read as “kindly rate your belief level concerning these headlines as circulated on social media during the 2016 United States’ Election period. Some are true others are not, but rate using the following scale of 1-8”
1. I am very sure the headline is false
2. I initially considered the headline true; presently I know it is false
3. I initially considered the headline true, presently am not sure if it is false or true
4. This is my first time to see this headline. It seems false
5. This is my first time to see this headline. It seems true
6. I initially considered the headline to be fake, presently am not sure if it is false or true
7. Initially I considered the headline false; presently I know it is true
8. I am very sure the headline is true
This specific survey question sought to answer the second research question “How deep did the electors accept any of the key fake news revolving around the 2016 Presidential elections in the USA” by estimating the level of belief in social media news associated with the elections. This question revealed quite some uncertainty regarding the role of social media in spreading fake and authentic news. Furthermore, the question was able to examine whether participants may have changed their views upon acquiring additional information that contradicted the headlines. Given that the news was impartially false or true, with the answers here showing how deeply the participants trusted these stories regardless of additional information being released to oppose or retract the given headline. The other survey question offered the above headlines arran...
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