This is a very positive observation from analysts on the German Marshall Fund’s Digital New Deal Initiative. They saw a decrease in exposure to disinformation content on Facebook and Twitter in the first quarter of 2021.
For this study, the experts used the work of the social network analysis company NewsWhip. The authors use misleading content to refer to links to websites that regularly disseminate false information and are discovered by the fact-checking organization NewsGuard.
Content classified as trustworthy is better highlighted
More specifically, there is a quarterly decrease of 60% in the sharing of content from these dubious sites through verified accounts on Twitter and a 15% decrease in interactions by internet users with these publications on Facebook.
According to Karen Kornbluh, head of the initiative for digital innovation and democracy at the German Marshall Fund, these good numbers can be explained by the efforts of these platforms. Quoted by The Hill, she specifies:
This encouraging decline shows that they have powerful tools to tackle disinformation at the source. We encourage platforms to continue to take proactive measures rather than resorting to ineffective measures against content that has gone viral.
Another reason to celebrate is that the proportion of interactions with publications from trusted media is increasing. The authors believe this is in part due to the prioritization of this content in Facebook’s news feed.
It should also be remembered that the ousting of Donald Trump from most platforms could have played an important role. The latter was indeed very influential and regularly spread false information that served his interests. Additionally, last January, Zignal Labs saw a 73% decrease in election frauds posted on major platforms in the week following the removal of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.