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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Sources Shared on Twitter: A Case Study on Immigration

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Hannah Klein, 202-419-4372, hklein@pewresearch.org



Sources Shared on Twitter: A Case Study on Immigration
An analysis of 9.7 million tweets reveals news organizations played the largest role in which content was linked to compared with other information providers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 29, 2018) – As news organizations battle charges of “fake news,” compete with alternate sources of information, and face low levels of trust from a skeptical public, a new Pew Research Center study suggests that news outlets still play the largest role in content that gets shared on Twitter, at least when it comes to one contentious issue in the news: immigration.

Approximately one year after President Trump signed an executive order that restricted entry to the U.S. by people from certain countries, the analysis, which aims to better understand the types of information sources that users of one popular social media platform might encounter about a major national policy issue, finds that news organizations played a far larger role than other types of content providers, such as commentary or government sites.

Researchers identified all English-language tweets on the topic of immigration during the first month of the Trump administration, Jan. 20 – Feb. 20, 2017, that included at least one external link. Any site that was linked to at least 750 times during this period was included in the study. This resulted in 9.7 million tweets that contained links to 1,030 sites.

Roughly four-in-ten (42%) of these sites were legacy and digital-native news organizations, defined in this study as News Organizations, entities that showed evidence of original reporting in their most prominent articles. Legacy news organizations accounted for twice as many sites as digital-native news organizations: 28% of all sites compared with 14%. The prominent role news organizations played in discussions about immigration on Twitter is underscored by the frequency with which these sites were shared: fully 75% of the tweets analyzed in this study contained links to them.

The study also finds little clear evidence that “fake news” sites were a major factor in the information stream on Twitter around immigration. Although verifying the accuracy of all reporting was beyond the scope of this study, researchers found that few of the 1,030 sites had attributes associated with sites that create “made-up” political content. Overall, only 18 sites – just 2% of all sites included in this study – were found on at least one of three widely circulated “fake news” lists created by external organizations. Additionally, the majority (94%) of News Organizations sites were established before 2015, suggesting they were not created solely for influence during the 2016 election.

“While the study does not directly address the broader question of fake news entities’ influence on the public, or examine who is sharing what types of sites, it does shed light on the degree to which consumers are exposed to different types of information providers on a policy issue debated in the news,” said Director of Journalism Research Amy Mitchell.

In addition to News Organizations, another roughly three-in-ten sites (29%) linked to during this time wereOther Information Providers, which focus on current events and public affairs, such as nonprofit/advocacy organizations, digital-native commentary/blog sites or government sites.

To get a sense of the degree to which the most linked-to content providers outwardly specified an ideological orientation, researchers analyzed the “about” pages on the official websites and social media profiles of sites in the News Organizations and Other Information Providers categories. Just 14% of these sites clearly specified a conservative or liberal ideological orientation. Sites were about equally as likely to specify their ideology to be conservative (9%) as liberal (5%).

Even fewer sites stated that their mission is to produce news and information not being covered by traditional media or politicians – which researchers coded as “anti-establishment orientation.” Only 8% of News Organizations and Other Information Providers sites declared an anti-establishment orientation. Digital-native news organizations (14%) were about three times more likely to use anti-establishment language than legacy news sites (4%). Digital-native commentary/blog sites, at 19%, were the most common of all sites to declare an anti-establishment orientation.

Read the report: http://www.journalism.org/2018/01/29/sources-shared-on-twitter-a-case-study-on-immigration/

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Hannah Klein at hklein@pewresearch.org or202-419-4372.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take policy positions. The Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. Subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters or follow us on ourFact Tank blog.

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