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Where ‘fake news’ flourishes : a comparison across four Western democracies


Humprecht, Edda (2018). Where ‘fake news’ flourishes : a comparison across four Western democracies. Information, Communication and Society, 21:1-16.

Abstract

How does the content of so-called ‘fake news’ differ across Western democracies? While previous research on online disinformation has focused on the individual level, the current study aims to shed light on cross-national differences. It compares online disinformation republished by fact checkers from four Western democracies (the US, the UK, Germany, and Austria). The findings reveal significant differences between English-speaking and German-speaking
countries. In the US and the UK, the largest shares of partisan disinformation are found, while in Germany and Austria sensationalist stories prevail. Moreover, in English-speaking countries, disinformation frequently attacks political actors, whereas in German-speaking countries, immigrants are most frequently targeted. Across all of the countries, topics of false stories strongly mirror national news agendas. Based on these results, the paper argues that online disinformation is not only a technology-driven phenomenon but also shaped by national information environments.

Abstract

How does the content of so-called ‘fake news’ differ across Western democracies? While previous research on online disinformation has focused on the individual level, the current study aims to shed light on cross-national differences. It compares online disinformation republished by fact checkers from four Western democracies (the US, the UK, Germany, and Austria). The findings reveal significant differences between English-speaking and German-speaking
countries. In the US and the UK, the largest shares of partisan disinformation are found, while in Germany and Austria sensationalist stories prevail. Moreover, in English-speaking countries, disinformation frequently attacks political actors, whereas in German-speaking countries, immigrants are most frequently targeted. Across all of the countries, topics of false stories strongly mirror national news agendas. Based on these results, the paper argues that online disinformation is not only a technology-driven phenomenon but also shaped by national information environments.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Uncontrolled Keywords:Disinformation, polarization, partisanship, international comparison, content analysis
Language:English
Date:21 May 2018
Deposited On:25 May 2018 13:52
Last Modified:30 Jun 2018 07:13
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1369-118X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1474241

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