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Fake News May Have Been Everywhere, But It Didn't Affect The Election

A new study found voters remembered very few fake news stories — and believed less.
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Fake News May Have Been Everywhere, But It Didn't Affect The Election

It appears Mark Zuckerberg was right — fake news on Facebook didn't have much of an effect on the presidential election. 

new study by Stanford and New York University economists found that while fake news was pervasive and skewed in favor of President Donald Trump, its influence over voters was likely overblown. 

Participants were asked questions about false stories that spread during the election, and other fake news that the researchers came up with themselves. 

The researchers estimate the average voter remembered one fake news story that favored Trump. But that doesn't mean they believed the story. 

For false news to have swayed the election, the researchers say "a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads."

Social media wasn't most voters' first source of information. National and local television, as well as websites, scored as more important sources of news during the election. 

Earlier this month, Facebook announced more steps in combating false stories, like changes to its trending topics feature. 

But if this study is any indication, fake news may have been worse for social media's legitimacy than the election's.