How the Supply of Fake News Affected Consumer Behavior during the 2016 US Election
79 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018 Last revised: 14 Feb 2020
Date Written: October 18, 2018
We characterize the effect of fake news on online browsing during the 2016 US presidential election. We estimate that weekday increases of 10 fake news articles — that were confirmed to be false by third-party services — increased the incidence of fake news site visits by 3.0%. To address endogeneity, we employ two approaches that attempt to isolate exogenous variation in fake news supply. We also estimate that weekday 10-article increases in fake news increase the odds of visiting one or more fake news sites by 3.7%. Overall, this evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of fake news production in reaching a diverse set of consumers.
Keywords: media economics, 2016 US election, fake news
JEL Classification: L82, P16
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