We are pleased to announce that a paper on our latest findings of disinformation analysis has been published in the Journal of Quantitative Description: Social Media (JQD:DM)! The article, entitled “Cracking Open the European Newsfeed”, is authored by Luca Rossi (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark) and vera.ai team members Fabio Giglietto, and Giada Marino (University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, Italy). It contributes to the ongoing effort to describe and quantify the quality of information shared on large social media platforms.
The authors have quantified both trustworthy and untrustworthy links to external websites shared on Facebook between 2019 and 2022 in three European countries, namely Germany, France, and Italy. By expanding prior research conducted in the USA, researchers utilized an enhanced iteration of the same data source — Meta’s URL Shares Dataset — and replicated the methodology. Results include a clear decline in the number of URLs in the dataset and an increase in URLs from untrustworthy domains as a percentage of the total URLs shared in a year. Furthermore, researchers have noted a higher increase of these links in electoral years, especially in Germany and Italy, but this does not translate into an increase in views received from untrustworthy sources.
Despite its mainly descriptive goals, the analysis provides insights into the URL Shares Dataset, prompting reflections on its opportunities and limitations. For example, examining age groups reveals stable user demographics on Facebook, with older age groups playing a more active role in sharing URLs from untrustworthy sources. This aligns with trends of younger users disengaging from the platform and older generations actively disseminating content from untrustworthy sources. Ultimately, the study emphasizes the importance of considering age-related dynamics in news consumption.
About the journal in which the aforementioned paper has been published:
JQD:DM is a diamond access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal hosted on the University of Zurich's HOPE platform, publishing quantitative descriptive social science. Co-editors are Andy Guess (Princeton University), Eszter Hargittai (University of Zurich), and Kevin Munger (Pennsylvania State University). Publications must follow three research steps: hypothesis generation, topic importance, and generalizability.
Author: Bruna Almeida Paroni (University of Urbino)
Editor: Jochen Spangenberg (Deutsche Welle)