On Monday, The Washington Post reported that new research shows Republican congressional candidates -- and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- are sharing misinformation at rates above anything seen two years ago during the 2020 presidential election — something analysts have been sounding the alarm on for months.
"Measuring misinformation on social media is complicated. With billions of posts per day on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it would be impossible to examine each one for misinformation. Instead, to approximate the level of misinformation shared by political candidates, we relied on NewsGuard, a nonpartisan organization that provides trust ratings for news sources online," wrote Maggie Macdonald and Megan A. Brown. "NewsGuard uses several point-based criteria to assess a site’s credibility and transparency, giving each site a score from 0 to 100 based on how well it adheres to those standards. NewsGuard considers those rated at 60 and above, which include such sources as The Washington Post, New York Times and CNN, to be reliable news sites. It considers those rated under 60, which include Breitbart and Daily Kos, to be unreliable."
As part of the study, they looked at the rate at which Republican candidates were sharing NewsGuard-designated "unreliable" news sources — and the results were striking.
"From January to July 2020, when Republican congressional candidates shared links to news sources, 8 percent came from sites rated as unreliable, on average each day. For Democratic candidates, the daily average was less than 1 percent," said the report. "Two years later, Republican candidates were leaning much more on unreliable news sources. From January to July 2022, on average each day, 36 percent of news that Republican candidates shared came from unreliable sites, while that was true for only 2 percent of news shared by Democratic candidates each day."
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According to the report, non-incumbent Republicans were significant drivers of the trend — and one non-incumbent Republican in particular was personally pulling up the average more than anyone else: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"As of July 12, 2022, she has shared 849 links to unreliable sources, out of 853 total, for more than 99 percent of her shared sources this year. Palin mostly shares blog posts from her own website, which NewsGuard rates as unreliable," said the report. "How would removing Palin’s unusually high percentages affect the overall averages? The findings remain similar though they are less stark. Without her, from January to July 2022, Republican congressional candidates shared news from unreliable sources 12 percent of the time."
You can read more here.