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Social media sharing of low quality news sources by political elites

Increased sharing of untrustworthy information on social media platforms is one of the main challenges of our modern information society. Because information disseminated by political elites is known to shape citizen and media discourse, it is particularly important to examine the quality of information shared by politicians.

Here we show that from 2016 onward, members of the Republican party in the U.S. Congress have been increasingly sharing links to untrustworthy sources. The proportion of untrustworthy information posted by Republicans versus Democrats is diverging at an accelerating rate, and this divergence has worsened since president Biden was elected. This divergence between parties seems to be unique to the U.S. as it cannot be observed in other western democracies such as Germany and the United Kingdom, where left-right disparities are smaller and have remained largely constant.

J. Lasser, S. Taofeek Aroyehun, A. Simchon, F. Carrella, D. Garcia, S. Lewandowsky, Social media sharing of low quality news sources by political elites, PNAS Nexus 1(4) (2022) pgad158.

portrait of Jana Lasser

Jana Lasser

David Garcia

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