November 29, 2022
American politicians are posting more misinformation on Twitter

American politicians are posting more misinformation on Twitter

* Ber Stephen Lewandowski And Jana Laser

basically Previous works As former US President Donald Trump showed how Twitter can be used to set a political agenda, we systematically analyzed the accuracy of posts on the platform by politicians in 3 countries: the US, the UK and Germany.

Together with colleagues David Garcia, Fabio Carrella, Almog Simson, and Segun Aroyehun, we collected all available publications from past and present members of the US Congress and the German and British Parliaments. We have collected more than 3 million Tweets Posted from 2016 to 2022.

Politicians from major parties in the UK and Germany publish some Links For untrustworthy sites on Twitter. Our new step search, It has remained unchanged since 2016.

On the other hand, American politicians publish a high percentage of untrustworthy content Tweets That share has increased sharply since 2020.

We also found significant differences between parties in the United States. Republican politicians are 9 times more likely to share untrustworthy websites than Democrats.

For Republicans in general, about 4% (1 in 25) Links Compared to 0.4% (1 in 250) among Democrats, it came from untrusted sites. This difference has increased in recent years.

By 2020, more than 5% Tweets There were Republicans in Congress Links For unreliable information. We found that Democrats share reliable information more often.

In a 5-year study, only 74 top-ranking members of the UK Parliament were elected Links with false information (0.01% of your total Tweetscompared to 4,789 (1.8%) American politicians and 812 (1.3%) German politicians.

To determine the credibility of information shared by politicians, we dissect it all Links For external sites located at Tweets Then we use the database NewsGuard data To assess the credibility of the linked domain.

NewsGuard manages a large number of websites in different countries and languages ​​and evaluates the characteristics of responsible journalism according to 9 criteria – for example, whether a website publishes editorials and distinguishes between opinion and news articles.

Our team surveyed members of the Conservative and Labor parties (Greens, SPD, FDP, CDU/CSU) in the UK and Germany, and members of the US Congress.

Members of the conservative German (CDU/CSU) and British parties shared Links More often than not their centrist or center-left counterparts to untrusted sites.

However, even conservative lawmakers in Europe were more accurate than US Democrats, by about 0.2% (one in 500). Links Hopeless European conservatives.

We repeated our analyzes using a 2nd database Instead of the credibility of the news site Newscard. This robustness check is important to reduce the risk of potential biases “Unreliable”.

2nd database compiled by academics and fact checkers Media bias/fact checking. Reassuringly, the results were consistent with our primary analyzes and we found the same trends.

The world has been very concerned about the state of our political dialogue for years. There is sufficient justification for this feeling because 30% to 40% of Americans believe an unsubstantiated claim 2020 presidential election “stolen” And about US President Joe Biden 10% of British people believe At least one misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most discussions of the problem of misinformation and blame have focused on social media and, in particular, the ways in which it organizes our lives. feeds News and it can Take us to more serious content.

Currently, there are Substantial evidence Social networking sites are harming democracy in some countries.

However, social media is not the only source of trouble for misinformation. Donald Trump has made over 30,000 false or misleading claims There are political leaders in the presidency and in Europe With bad history.

However, the role of social networks and the The relationship between technology and democracy, In general, there have been few attempts to systematically characterize the role of political leaders in disseminating low-quality information.

Our results are interesting in light of this Many recent reviews of American public news consumption who have repeatedly shown themselves to be conservatives More opportunities to discover and share More unreliable information than liberals. To date, the origin of this distinction remains controversial.

Our results contribute to a possible explanation if we assume that politicians’ statements set the agenda and resonate with the public.

By sharing misinformation, congressional Republicans are not only feeding misinformation directly to their followers, but also legitimizing the sharing of unreliable information in general.


Stephen Lewandowski Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol, UK. Jana Laser He is a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University of Graz, Austria. This article has been republished Conversation Under Creative Commons License.


The text is translated Julia Bro. Read the original text English.


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