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Facebook News Use During the 2017 Norwegian Elections—Assessing the Influence of Hyperpartisan News


Abstract and Figures

The paper at hand presents a comparative study on news use in relation to media content as posted to Facebook by a series of established and hyperpartisan media outlets during the 2017 Norwegian national election campaign. Specifically, we are interested in determining what types of news emanating from what types of news outlets that result in comparably higher levels of news use-defined as levels of likes, shares and comments-on Facebook. Results indicated that with a few exceptions, established, legacy media dominate the most engaging news stories during the election campaign, while results for hyperpartisan media outlets suggests rather limited influence. Nevertheless, the hyperpartisan media outlets succeeded in making themselves visible on the platform under scrutiny, driving attention to issues such as immigration during the election campaign.
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Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Facebook news use during the 2017 Norwegian elections -
Assessing the influence of hyperpartisan news!
Bente Kalsnes (corresponding author)
Department of Communication
Kristiania University College
Anders Olof Larsson
Department of Communication
Kristiania University College
The paper at hand presents a comparative study on news use in relation to media content as
posted to Facebook by a series of established and hyperpartisan media outlets during the 2017
Norwegian national election campaign. Specifically, we are interested in determining what
types of news emanating from what types of news outlets that result in comparably higher
levels of news use - defined as levels of likes, shares and comments - on Facebook. Results
indicated that with a few exceptions, established, legacy media dominate the most engaging
news stories during the election campaign, while results for hyperpartisan media outlets
suggests rather limited influence. Nevertheless, the hyperpartisan media outlets succeeded in
making themselves visible on the platform under scrutiny, driving attention to issues such as
immigration during the election campaign.
Norway; Social Media; Facebook; Election; Hyperpartisan media; Alternative media!
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
News media play important roles in modern democracies - perhaps especially during
elections. Indeed, concepts such as agenda-setting and gatekeeping have been employed and
honed for decades (e.g. McCombs and Shaw, 1972; Shoemaker and Vos, 2009), crafting the
basis for our common understanding of the societal roles of journalism and journalistic
practice. While the bulk of these theoretical underpinnings stem from the pre-digital era, these
and other time-tested conceptualizations are of essential interest also in the multi-channel,
thoroughly digitized media environments of today - with at least one amendment.
Specifically, while we should not overestimate their precise influence, the role of the audience
member has arguably shifted since the advent and continued implementation of the Internet
within the news media sector. Viewing audience members as “news users” (e.g. Picone,
2016), the present study engages with the issue of activities undertaken by such users in
relation to media content posted on what is currently one of the most important platforms for
media outlets - Facebook. Providing empirical data of news use practices as performed during
the 2017 Norwegian elections, the study at hand provides useful insights from a media system
characterized by fairly high levels of trust in news media and willingness to pay for news
(Newman et al., 2018) and high degrees of voting attendance (SSB, 2017), but at the same
time an increasing use of so-called hyperpartisan news sites.!
Besides detailing Facebook news usage during a period of supposed heightened
political attention as described above, the current work also seeks to investigate another
relatively novel tendency brought on or at least augmented by the possibilities of the digital
era. Indeed, the Internet and social media have introduced new opportunities for would-be
publishers who lacked the funding, the 'know-how' or the education to engage professionally
with journalistic tasks, sometimes in tandem with journalists working within what we can
refer to as established media (e.g. Gillmor, 2004). For our current purposes, we understand
so-called established, legacy or mainstream media as those outlets that adhere to the
profession’s ethical rules and, in the Norwegian context, are members of the Association of
Norwegian Editors.!
While the term 'alternative media' often invokes journalistic content influenced by left-
wing, anti-establishment ideology (e.g. Atton, 2001; Couldry and Curran, 2003), more recent
developments have seen attention in this regard shifting to what could be considered as
alternative, right-wing media outlets characterized by "ways of reporting radically different
from those of the mainstream" (Atton, 2003: 267). Indeed, just as the roles of media outlets
such as Breitbart and Info Wars enjoyed comparably large amounts of attention during the
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
2016 US presidential election, so have similar right-wing hyperpartisan media outlets sprung
into action in other parts of the world. However, as scholarship into these matters has focused
primarily on the US context (e.g. Fletcher et al., 2018), more research is needed that details
the degree to which hyperpartisan news outlets and their legacy media counterparts succeed in
gaining user attention in social media such as Facebook. !
With the above in mind, the paper at hand presents a comparative study on news use
in relation to media content as posted to Facebook by a series of established and what we
refer to here as hyperpartisan, right-wing media outlets. Specifically, we are interested in
determining what types of news emanating from what types of news outlets that result in
comparably higher levels of news use - defined as levels of reactions, shares and comments -
on Facebook. Such a focus will allow for needed insights into the growth of alternative, right-
wing media in comparison to their established counterparts in a non US-context. Given the
important role of audience engagement for contemporary journalism as published on digital
platforms such as social media (e.g. Hanusch & Tandoc Jr, 2017), the paper at hand provides
useful insights into the ways in which audience engagement is fashioned during a period of
heightened societal activity. Indeed, as elections have been shown to increase news
engagement such as the types studied here (e.g. Trilling, Tolochko & Burscher, 2017),
studying the spread of hyperpartisan content in relation the ways in which news content from
mainstream media outlets spread appears as especially suitable.!
As issues of 'fake news' are sometimes used to describe those competing with
established media for audience attention (e.g. Tandoc Jr et al., 2017), issues of news
engagement and the spreading of news on Facebook are becoming increasingly urgent to
pinpoint and clarify - especially as While our current efforts are not necessarily engaging in
debates seeking to define terminology like the aforementioned 'fake news' variety, the work
presented here engages empirically with a series of Facebook presences often suggested as
'spinning’ or indeed framing news to fit a specific - in this case, right-wing - agenda. In so
doing, the study presented here provides important insights into current trends in news
engagement (as suggested by Chadwick et al., 2018). !
Literature review!
Hyperpartisan news media!
As alluded to previously, media environments have changed fundamentally with the
increasing proliferation of digital, social and mobile media (Vowe & Henn, 2016), the
interplay of different media logics (Chadwick, 2013) and the challenge of novel business
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
models for traditional news media companies (Newman et al., 2018). While so-called
traditional or legacy media have exercised their gatekeeping roles by selecting and framing
information to be presented as news for several decades (e.g. Shoemaker and Vos, 2009),
digital media in general and social media in particular have challenged this established power
structure by lowering the bar to self-publish and to enter into the fray of news provision
(Bruns, 2003; Kalsnes, 2016). Those who have taken such steps have been defined as yielding
“media power that challenges, at least implicitly, actual concentration of media power,
whatever form those media concentration may take in different locations” (Couldry & Curran,
2003: 7). !
While the fruits of such digital efforts have often been understood as alternative
media, the term at hand is not intrinsically associated with the Internet. Rather, it has for a
long time been connotated with the left-wing activism undertaken as part of the social
movements that were established in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Haller & Holt, 2019).
Alternative media has also been defined as the production of small scale media that are linked
to the realities of social movements (but not exclusively), and that are defined by collective
practices of participatory communication within a given group (Downing, 2001; Atton, 2002).
Other terms have also been used, such as radical media (Downing, 2001) or citizen media
(Rodriguez, 2001). While emanating from a left-wing ideological standpoint, this terminology
has increasingly been used to describe new online media sites championing issues and
framings from the opposite side of the ideological spectrum (e.g. Fletcher et al., 2018).
Indeed, Haller and Holt argue that a common definition of ‘alternative media’ is still missing
(Haller & Holt, 2019) as alternative media is not only defined as an alternative in terms of
content - but also concerning production process, media criticism, professional ethos and
distribution (Holtz-Bacha, 2015) and, as discussed here, with regards to their respective
ideological outsets. Additionally, alternative media have challenged the existing practices and
ethical norms of legacy media (Figenschou & Ihlebæk, 2018).
With regards to the study at hand, we take the recent developments and tendencies
outlined above into account and follow the terminology of Fletcher and co-authors (2018)
who employ ‘hyperpartisan’ to described news media actors who champion a specific
political agenda. As hyperpartisan media could be considered as alternative media with a clear
political take or indeed frame on current events, the term provides a good fit with the types of
alternative outlets succeeding in gaining public attention in the Norwegian context.!
In relation to elections such as the one studied in the paper at hand, legacy media
actors have been considered key in providing ‘the kind of information people need in order to
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
be free and self-governing’ (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2007, p. 12). Even though such established
news media still constitute the most important source of information about politics and
current affairs in many Western countries (e.g. Mitchell et al., 2016; Van Aelst et al. 2017) -
also in Norway (Veberg, 2017) - recent studies have indeed demonstrated how changing news
media consumption habits among citizens are resulting in more attention being given to non-
legacy or indeed hyperpartisan media actors during election campaigns (e.g. Fletcher et al.,
2018). Indeed, a plethora of such media have emerged in a series of contexts, often utilizing
online channels and sometimes attracting enough readers to succeed in making impact on
public discourse (e.g. Haller & Holt, 2019; Holt, 2016; Storz, 2015). As alluded to above,
these hyperpartisan actors typically build their narratives on anti-system, anti-immigration
and anti-elite framing techniques and rhetorical devices (e.g. Haller & Holt, 2019). The influx
of such hyperpartisan news providers has further bolstered the challenges to journalistic
authority mentioned previously (e.g. Gillmor 2004; Siles & Boczkowski, 2012), and such
influences can be coupled with reports of decreased reliance on and an increased distrust of
mainstream media. In relation to these developments, it seems reasonable to assume that the
latter of these two tendencies is partially motivated by a perception among news consumers of
widespread ethical violations and corruption within mainstream media (e.g. Siles &
Boczkowski, 2012; Starbird, 2017).!
While mass media represent communication from a center to a dispersed mass,
alternative media such as the hyperpartisan outlets discussed here typically specialize in
narrower topics or on providing specific frames or explanations for everyday news. As such, a
curious dependency can also be discerned between hyperpartisan and established
news outlets (Haller & Holt, 2019). Specifically, Karlsson and Holt (2016) point out that
much like the general tendency visible in journalism on the web, where more and more
material is rewrites of stories and news produced by others, alternative media feed off of
content from established media as it gives them timely content, increased traffic and -
essentially - something to criticise. Thus, in addition to criticizing the mainstream,
hyperpartisan media actors simply use the material published by their competitors but
provide their own ‘spin’ or indeed frame on the issues raised. For example, Holt (2016)
interviewed a series of Swedish alternative media actors, all mainly focused on offering
critique towards what they perceived as an out of control immigration policy - as well as
critiquing the ways that immigration issues had been presented in traditional media outlets.
The ideological focus of these alternative media actors was not necessarily far-right or
extremist. Instead, the views reported were rather diverse, ranging from lapsed social
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
democrats to outspoken fascists. Common for all interviewees, though, was that they
positioned themselves as self-appointed correctors of the supposed skewed view presented by
traditional media - thus clearly challenging an institution which for several decades have had
the power to represent reality to others (e.g. Couldry & Curran, 2003).The suspicion against
mainstream media is typically found in alternative media in other European countries as well
(Aalberg, Esser, Reinemann, Strömbäck, & De Vreese). In Germany, the expression ‘the liar
press’ (‘Lügenpresse’) often used by the Nazis to describe unfavorable media, has seen a
revival lately (Haller & Holt, 2019). Additionally, the growing influence of right-wing
alternative media in terms of user numbers and the spread of postings by sharing can be seen
as one example of an ongoing polarization and fragmentation of the political discourse in
liberal democracies (Müller, 2008).
Consumption of the news has become a performance that is not only about seeking
information or entertainment. What we choose to “like” or follow is part of our identity, an
indication of our social class and status, and most frequently our political persuasion (Wardle
& Derakshan, 2017). While these alternative media outlets might take bold stances, the
question remains as to how well their products spread throughout their platforms of choice -
more often than not, social media service like the one under scrutiny here.!
News use on Facebook!
As previously mentioned, our current efforts are geared towards assessing news use practices
on Facebook as undertaken in relation to content posted to the specified platform by a
selection of legacy and hyperpartisan media outlets. We use the related terms ‘news user’ and
‘news use’ to describe the ways in which audiences are allowed to take roles of “active
recipients” of news (Singer et al, 2011). Picone (2016) suggests that these terms allow for an
understanding of audiences as active in relation to news items that are already published
rather than being allowed to create their own content. To a certain degree, such a change in
how audiences are viewed could be considered a repercussion of platform choice, moving
away from many of the ideals associated with citizen journalism (e.g Örnebring, 2013).
Indeed, news users are allowed to be active only in the ways that are allowed for by the
platform employed for news dissemination. In the case of Facebook, we can identify three
main options that news users typically have access to when seeking to engage with news (e.g.
Larsson, 2015; Sormanen et al, 2015) - liking (or reacting), commenting and sharing.
First, liking a specific post made by a news provider has been described by Hille and
Bakker (2013, 666) as “a ‘light’ version of participation”. While this particular function has
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
evolved from its original inception of a ‘thumbs-up’ icon to a plethora of reactions readily
available for the news user to showcase in relation to a specific post, the relative ease with
which the liking/reacting buttons are used is visible in other studies targeting the same
platform (e.g. Larsson, 2018a), but also in scholarship tracing similar feedback options as
they were provided on platforms predating Facebook (e.g. Larsson, 2011). While the specific
relationships between these three modes of engagement and the ways in which content gains
traction on Facebook is in an almost constant flux, the specific nature of the changes to the
importance of each mode for viral purposes remains largely unknown outside of Facebook
itself. Nevertheless, gauging the degrees to which these engagements are employed is of
importance if we wish to understand how novel actors – such as the hyperpartisan outlets
studied here – are able to make an impact in relation to their more established competitors. !
Second, Facebook features the opportunity for commenting in relation to posts,
supposedly allowing “users to express their personal opinions” (Chung, 2008: 666).
Reminiscent of the comment fields typically available on the web sites often operated by
news providers outside of Facebook, Hille and Bakker (2014) suggest that news users are
more likely to engage by means of commenting outside of Facebook. Indeed, while comments
made in relation to Facebook posts will be made visible on the platform in some way, shape
or form, such activity as undertaken outside of the platform under scrutiny are perceived as
allowing for higher degrees of anonymity - “comments on websites are certainly ‘more
anonymous’ than comments on Facebook” (Hille and Bakker 2014, 570). In comparison to
the comparably low threshold to be overcome to partake in liking, we expect news user to
engage by means of commenting to a comparably smaller degree. !
Third, while the inner workings of Facebook algorithms are not publicly known, the
practice of sharing is often pointed to as especially important in order to boost the visibility of
provided posts (e.g. Nahon and Hemsely, 2013). Much like for commenting, the sharing of
news items appear to be a somewhat complicated affair for the end users. Presenting findings
from a survey regarding news consumption on social media, Hermida et al (2012: 5) found
that 64 percent of respondents “valued being able to easily share content with others”.
However, Costera Meijer and Groot Kormelink (2014) report on survey data from the
Netherlands, indicating that their respondents “hardly share news” (2014: 10) and that the
hesitance to do so could in part stem from an unwillingness to attract visibility. Other studies
have suggested that content characterized by controversial or emotional topics lead to higher
degrees of sharing, such as immigration (e.g., Kalsnes & Larsson, 2018; Kümpel, Karnowski,
& Keyling, 2015), and clearly, the practice of sharing news is arguably a complex one.!As
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
such, while sharing might be important for the platforms themselves, we again might expect it
to be a rather diminutively used feature. !
As Facebook becomes an increasingly important platform for news distribution,
traditional and alternative media actors alike are scrambling to adapt their services to fit with
the affordances made available by digital intermediaries such as the studied platform - a
process that is the source of some frustration among media actors (e.g. Kleis Nielsen and
Ganter, 2017). Of specific relevance to our current endeavours is the premise that media
actors increasingly need to provide content that succeeds in gaining engagement or indeed
“attention and amplification” (Zhang et al., 2017) on Facebook - by means of reactions,
comments and shares as described above. As previous research has shown that news content
engaged with to comparably higher degrees tend to be highly emotional (Kümpel et al, 2015;
Larsson, 2018b, 2018c), concerns regarding the ‘shareability’ of news items might yield
influence over editorial concerns when media actors plan their respective Facebook presences. !
As previous research has mainly focused on engagement patterns in relation to what
we refer to here as traditional or legacy media, the study at hand provides a comparative take
on these issues, detailing engagement patterns across legacy as well as hyperpartisan media
actors. !
The Norwegian Case!
As previously mentioned, the study presented here details news user engagement with legacy
and hyperpartisan media in Norway during the 2017 national election. Given its clear
difference from the often-studied US context (Fletcher et al., 2018), studying issues of online
news engagement in relation to legacy and hyperpartisan media in the Norwegian context
should provide useful insights regarding the spread and indeed success rate of such
comparably novel media actors. Like many other countries, Norway has also seen the rise of
hyperpartisan news sites in the last few years (Newman et. al, 2018, 92). For instance, two of
the outlets studied here, and, are characterized by championing tough
stances on issues like immigration and Islam, sometimes succeeding to reach beyond their
specific audiences and into the legacy media headlines.
Nevertheless, Norway is characterized as a more consensus oriented society with less
polarisation both in the political and media system, compared to i.e. the UK and the US, as
clearly stated in Reuters Digital News Report (Fletcher, 2017). The Norwegian media system
belongs to the democratic corporatist model as defined by Hallin and Mancini (2004), and is
as such characterized by a “historical coexistence of commercial media and media tied to
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
organized social and political groups, and by a relatively active but legally limited role of the
state” (Hallin & Mancini, 2004:11). The system features weak degrees of political
parallelism, a strongly developed mass circulation press, advanced journalistic
professionalism and an active welfare state with interventions in the media sector (Strömbäck
& Aalberg, 2008: 93). Within such a context, one might expect new hyperpartisan media sites
to struggle to higher degrees than in the countries characterized otherwise. But even though
the partisan media sites in Norway reach a significant number of people, they are less trusted
than mainstream media (Newman et al., 2018: 92). On the other hand, immigration as an
issues has been amplified in the last Norwegian elections, and it was deemed the most
important issue by voters in 2017, ahead of economy and education (SSB, 2017). Thus, one
could expect immigration related stories from hyperpartisan sites to gain increased traction on
social media.
Data collection!
The media outlets studied were based on the selection process undertaken for a
previous work undertaken by the authors (Kalsnes and Larsson, 2018). To be precise, four
legacy media news organizations were selected - the broadsheet Aftenposten, the public
service broadcaster NRK, the commercial broadcaster TV2 and the tabloid newspaper VG.
The four legacy sites are the four largest new sites and broadcasters in Norway. In order to
facilitate our comparative efforts as outlined above, the mainstream outlets were combined
with three hyperpartisan news providers -, Human Rights Service and Nattnytt.
The first two of these providers were deemed as suitable for study given their popularity and
the degree to which they had been covered by their legacy media competitors (Larsson, 2019;
Newman et al., 2018; Torvik and Åm, 2017). describes itself as a “leading
online website for independent and agenda-setting news, political analysis and thought-
provoking commentaries”. The site was initially established as a blog in 2003, and has a
weekly readership of 13 per cent of readers on the political right (Moe and Sakariassen 2018),
the website consists mainly of news, commentary and op-ed articles, and readers are invited
to comment (Figenschou & Ihlebæk, 2019). Human Rights Service is among the most-read
alternative media sites in Norway, with 14 per cent of weekly readers on the political right
(Moe and Sakariassen 2018). It describes itself as a think tank and alternative news site
established in 2001 to improve integration and promote universal democratic rights
(Figenschou & Ihlebæk, 2019). We also included the now defunct Nattnytt hyperpartisan
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
outlet, which succeeded in gaining media attention during the studied election but which since
then appears to have seized their activities. Nattnytt was an Islam and immigration critical
website at the time of data collection with unknown owner or publisher.
Data regarding the most engaging new stories (reactions, comments and shares per
news story by the studied outlets), not only related to politics, but all types of topics, were
collected during the election campaign with the assistance of Storyboard. Focusing the time
period leading up to the Norwegian national elections on September 11, 2017, data collection
was focused on the short election campaign (Aardal, 2011), i.e. the month leading up to the
election. Thus, data regarding news use was collected starting August 11 and terminating
September 12.
Storyboard is a “social media analytics tool for online publishers, helping journalists,
editors and media analysts to get the full picture of what stories are being shared right now”
(Storyboard, 2018). In essence, Storyboard collects data from social media services via RSS
in combination with assessing the “share” buttons for such services that are often found
embedded on the web pages of newspaper websites. While this gives us the data needed to
assess differences with regards to news use across legacy and hyperpartisan media, it should
be noted that news use performed without using the buttons as described above (for example,
the pasting of the URL of an article onto Facebook) is not included in the data presented here.
Thus, while the total share number of the articles studied are likely to be higher than what is
indicated in the following, we nevertheless argue that the approach taken provides useful
insights into news-sharing practices.
Data analysis!
Agenda setting research has for many years demonstrated that the issues that dominate the
agenda of the news media tend to correspond with the issues on voters’ agenda (McCombs
and Shaw,1972; Iyengar and Kinder, 1987). Voters in Norway, similar to many other western
countries with multiparty political systems, are less faithful toward one specific party and
decide late during the election campaign which party to vote for (Aardal and Bergh, 2015).
Thus, the issues that dominate the agenda of the news media, and correspondingly,
the agenda of the voters, can influence the election results (Karlsen, 2015). However,
differing from traditional agenda setting studies, this study instead examines which news
stories from the studied outlets create the most activity, through social media from news users
and potential voters, thus potentially raising visibility in the newsfeed of Facebook users. !
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Employing content analysis (e.g Neuendorf, 2002), the material was coded utilizing
topics derived from previous, similar studies (e.g. Kalsnes and Larsson, 2018; Sjøvaag,
Stavelin & Moe, 2015), and the titles are translated into English from the original Norwegian.
Specifically, the following codes were applied: crime, entertainment, election (pertaining to
the competitive aspect rather than to specific issues), family, finance, foreign, health,
immigration, politics (pertaining to specific issues rather than to the competitive aspect as in
the ‘election’ code), religion, social issues, sports, technology, weather as well as an ‘other’
category. The two authors coded the whole material simultaneously, working together in real-
time with the dataset described above. Any initial disagreements emerging during the coding
process were resolved by discussion until agreement could be reached. Given our focus on
gauging the degree to which hyperpartisan media outlets succeeded in gaining traction during
the studied election, the coding process was not applied to a previously decided number of
news items as gathered from Storyboard. Rather, we took a more pragmatic approach, looking
into the top news items from each outlet with regards to reactions, comments and shares for
the whole time periode, August 11- September 12.Thus, the number of news items analysed
will differ for each of these categories of news use. Indeed, as ‘reacting’ to Facebook posts
takes place on a whole other scale than for instance sharing, the described approach was
deemed suitable since it allows us to clearly assess the influence of hyperpartisan media
outlets within the most engaged with news items while leaving our selection criteria flexible
enough to capture the activity yielded in relation to outlets beyond the immediate top. !
The top news items with regards to reactions, comments and shares received are presented in
Figures 1-3 below. So as to facilitate easy identification of hyperpartisan media outlets, the
bars depicting the amount of news use undertaken to news items emanating from such sites
are featured in darker shades, while the bars corresponding to news items from established,
legacy media are characterized with a lighter shade. Furthermore, the categorization of each
news item is provided in relation to each corresponding bar. !
First, the overall picture of our findings shows that, with a few exceptions, established, legacy
media dominate the most engaging news stories during the election campaign,
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
while, results for hyperpartisan media outlets suggests rather limited influence. For more
specific resultats, we find that news items most reacted to, the categorization scheme provided
somewhat mixed results regarding topics, but with a clear tendency towards political issues
and towards news items dealing with the election itself. This latter category largely falls in
line with the “horse-race” frame of election reporting often found in established media during
Scandinavian elections (e.g. Strömbäck & Aalberg, 2008) - a frame that, at least according to
the results presented in Figure One, succeeds in generating reactions. Of interest is also the
finding that the bulk of the news items focusing on the election largely point to pre-election
polls bringing about disappointing results for the social democratic Labour party
(abbreviation: Ap), while the right-wing populist Progress Party (abbreviation: Frp) are
reported as doing quite well. To some extent, the placement of these news items in the very
top certainly has to do with the general popularity of the horse-race frame of reporting among
potential voters (Iyengar et al., 2004), but could also have to do with the comparably higher
levels of popularity that Frp has previously enjoyed on the platform under study here (e.g.
Kalsnes, 2016). Additionally, the stories most reacted to concern a tougher stance against
crime and immigration, topics typically associated with the Frp.
Finally for reactions, we see one dark bar in Figure One - a piece from the
hyperpartisan outlet Human Rights Services featuring a ‘tell-all’ interview with a Swedish
police officer discussing issues of immigration. Thus, at least for reactions, the results
presented here suggests rather limited influence for hyperpartisan media outlets. !
Second, for sharing, as can be seen among the top news items identified in Figure Two, the
focus on issues pertaining to the election rather than political issues is tangible here in
addition to the similarly structured results shown in Figure One. While election news are
popular, the news detailed here with regards to sharing appear to not be as focused on polls as
was the case with reactions. While we cannot make any steadfast claims as to this difference,
the decreased focus on polls for the share data shown here could have to do with the
aforementioned need identified by users to manage their visibility on Facebook. Specifically,
while the news identified here as highly shared - such as problems emanating from tax issues
of Ap leader Jonas Gahr Støre - might be easier for users to share as they evoke political
scandals (Allern & Pollack, 2012) rather than the somewhat technical style of journalism
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
often found in relation to ‘horse-race’-style reports on polls. Further research into the
motivations or drivers of news use will hopefully be able to assess this suggested explanation. !
As for the influence of hyperpartisan content, the presence of eight dark shaded bars in
Figure Two suggests that such content is relatively more popular in relation to shares than to
reactions. While only a few news stories emanating from these types of outlets succeeded in
making it to the top in this regard, this result nevertheless suggests a normalization of these
outlets that apparently enjoyed the sharing of their news items to comparably high degrees -
comparable to their established legacy media counterparts. Of course, our data does not allow
us to say who specifically are sharing these news items - and how large their Facebook
networks are. But findings in previous research have pointed out since news sharing is not
particularly common among general users of social media, those users who actually share
news on these platforms tend to have a strong political interest, typically follow politicians on
social media and appear as opinion leaders in their own respective social networks (Karlsen,
2015). Nevertheless, the results presented in Figure Two clearly shows the influence of
hyperpartisan news media on Facebook during the 2017 Norwegian elections. !
Finally, for comments, Figure Three suggests somewhat differing results when it comes to the
most commented news items when compared to the most reacted upon and shares. While the
Figure certainly feature news relating to political issues and to the election, we also see a
certain amount of ‘clickbait’ type news items - featuring health risks in relation to energy
drinks, penile injuries and thieves specializing in the stealing of sex toys. These stories,
largely reported in a somewhat whimsical fashion thus yield plenty of comments. A closer
look at the corresponding Facebook pages for each story suggests that these are largely not
comments that engage with the news item per se - rather, the comment functionality is used to
‘tag’ other users in order to make them aware of the news piece. As such, it appears that
Facebook users have adapted the commenting functionality into sharing the news - but only
with the user tagged in the comment, rather than sharing the news item on a profile page for
all Facebook friends to see. For hyperpartisan news outlets, they are not as clearly represented
here as for the most shared news items. !
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Through detailing news use on Facebook during the 2017 Norwegian national elections, we
have shown that political stories are among the most used across the categories employed.
The findings also indicate what could be referred to as a somewhat limited influence of
hyperpartisan outlets on the platform under study. In this final section of the study, we
address what we consider to be our three main findings.!
First, election periods are periods of heightened political attention, which is clearly
visible in the material at hand as political news stories succeded in creating the most
engagement among news users - in particular with regards to reactions. This finding differs
from previous, similar studies where the time frame is longer (Kalsnes & Larsson, 2018), and
where political stories did not succeed in reaching the levels of engagement among news
users depicted here. As shown in the Figures presented previously, the stories driving the
most engagement among users are negative news stories about the Labour party. The Labour
party experienced an almost historic low voter turnout in the 2017 election, a result that is
reflected in the high engagement in relation horse-race themed articles about bad polling
results for the party. Similarly, popular articles also featured the tax avoidance scandal
associated with the Labour party leader Jonas Gahr Støre. These stories were among the most
reacted and shared stories during the last month leading up to the election. !
We might consider what repercussions these results could have for election reporting.
Newsrooms will usually invest in numerous polls during election season, and when the
corresponding social media metrics (such as those presented here) suggest that such contents
appear to resonate well with news users, it is easy to see how the commercial side of the
media industries might come into play - even though such prioritizations could be expected to
be detrimental to the ability of voters to inform themselves about the election (Strömbäck &
Aalberg, 2008). By publishing numerous horse-race articles, newsrooms could thus be seen as
performing a balancing act between securing clicks and informing the news users. Confirming
previous studies (e.g. Karlsen & Aalberg, 2015), our study finds that legacy media are still
dominating during election campaigns, here measured in terms of reader engagement, but
increasingly, the hyperpartisan newcomers are trying, with limited success, to challenge the
traditional media outlets. The outcome of such challenges on the practices and prioritizations
of mainstream or legacy media outlet professionals remains to be seen. As previous research
has shown how audience engagement such as the news use patterns studied here has yielded
influence of newsroom prioritizations (e.g., Lee, Lewis, & Powers, 2012; Tandoc, 2014; Vu,
2014; Welbers, van Atteveldt, Kleinnijenhuis, Ruigrok, & Schaper, 2016), future studies
might find it useful to gauge the degree to which the themes, styles and rhetoric of the stories
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
offered by hyperpartisan news outlets also become salient among mainstream media. This is
not to suggest that the latter type of outlets would become hyperpartisan overnight. Rather, we
view these result in the light of how previous external influences - tabloidization for instance -
has amended the ways in which news are presented (Larsson, 2019).!
Second, even though the hyperpartisan news outlets studied here cannot be said to
compete with their legacy media counterparts in terms of total traffic (Gotaas and Åm, 2017),
the results presented here are nevertheless indicative of their ability to gain visibility during
the studied election - mainly through shares on Facebook. Indeed, the level of shares yielded
by hyperpartisan news sites are measured at such levels that they are, in relation to certain
stories at least, outperforming stories emanating from legacy media. As discussed in the
literature review section of the paper at hand, sharing can be said to have a higher threshold
for use than reactions. Indeed, while reactions are indeed more common, the perhaps
surprisingly high numbers of shares found for hyperpartisan news stories could be seen as
indicative of a small, but very active audience inclined to share items from right wing media
sites during election campaigns. The small size of the audience (five percent or less of the
media consumers) visit these alternative, partisan sites weekly (Moe & Sakariassen, 2018)
and appear to take on comparably active roles as redistributors of hyperpartisan content as
made visible here. It should also be noted that the hyperpartisan sites have taken a tough
stance on the issue of immigration and Islam, and even though their overall size in likely
smaller then legacy media sites (the hyperpartisan sites are not measured by the official media
site ranking, Kantar Media), they are “causing public debates that extend beyond their
audiences and into the general headlines” (Newman et al.,2018: 92). While ideology has
proven to be a strong indicator of news sharing (Guess, Nagler & Tucker, 2019), strong
political interest for immigration issues can be an explanation for the willingness to articles
from the hyperpartisan sites. It indicates a normalization of these sites on social media, driven
by what could be a strong political - most likely dissenting - interest. At the same time, the
results presented here could also be due to coordinated efforts to gain attention involving
actual users as well as automated ones - ‘bots’. As this study has examined news sharing
during the election campaign, future studies could examine how engagement related to
content from hyperpartisan news sites looks like in a non-election period. Such an approach
might help adressing some of the issues raised by the work at hand. While this study does not
address and compare traffic number for legacy media and hyperpartisan media because they
are not available for the hyperpartisan sites, other studies could take that into account in future
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Third, our study identifies that a different kind of sharing is taking place on Facebook,
going beyond the specific functionality. By tagging friends’ names in the comment section of
news stories, both from legacy and hyperpartisan news sites, users make their friends aware of
articles they should read. We can refer to this practice as personal sharing. Sharing news
stories openly in the newsfeed is declining in many countries, including Norway (Newman et
al, 2018), and tagging people could be seen as a more subtle and less visible type of sharing
compared to the default sharing function afforded by Facebook. This personal type of sharing
could suit younger news users who are less inclined to use the ordinary share function on
Facebook (Costera Meijer and Groot Kormelink, 2014). Nevertheless, the type of sharing
detected here is miniscule compared to the two other types of engagements Facebook affords
for, reactions and comments. Future studies should look into news user sharing habits and the
degree to which users engage through personal sharing – as well as what these and possibly
other emerging news user practices mean for those media professionals who seek to engage
the visitors of their social media presences.!
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Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Figure One. Top news items with regards to Facebook reactions. 45 items selected.!
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Figure Two. Top news items with regards to Facebook shares. 64 items selected.!
Accepted version paper to be published in Journalism Practice
Figure Three. Top news items with regards to Facebook comments. 38 items selected.
... Research has shown that alternative media foster inaccurate beliefs about politics (Garrett et al., 2016), lead to an erosion of trust in mainstream news (Guess et al., 2021;Jamieson and Cappella, 2008), and contribute to partisan polarization (Theorin, 2019;Theorin and Strömbäck, 2020;Tsfati and Nir, 2017). Furthermore, evidence has been found that content from alternative media triggers high engagement on social network sites (Faris et al, 2017;Kalsnes and Larsson, 2021;Larsson, 2019Larsson, , 2020Sandberg and Ihlebaek, 2019) and that, in turn, the use of these platforms is closely related to alternative media exposure (Müller and Schulz, 2021). Hence, in times of APNC, users are increasingly likely to encounter alternative media with the potential to influence public opinion. ...
... Moreover, using the alternative media label for far-right outlets has become quite established in academic literature. This applies in particular to the bulk of research studying the content, audiences, reach, and effects of right-wing media in the wake of the so-called 2015 refugee crisis in Europe (Bachl, 2018;Figenschou and Ihlebaek, 2019;Frischlich et al., 2020;Haller and Holt, 2018;Heft et al, 2020;Kalsnes and Larsson, 2021;Larsson, 2020;Müller and Schulz, 2021;Nygaard, 2019;Sandberg and Ihlebaek, 2019;Theorin, 2019;Theorin and Strömbäck, 2020) and following the 2016 elections in the United States (Faris et al, 2017;Grigoryan, 2019;Heft et al, 2020;Kaiser et al., 2020;Rauch, 2019;Starbird, 2017;Starbird et al., 2018;Van den Bulck and Hyzen, 2020;Wasilewski, 2019). ...
... There is no evidence that left-wing media have attained a similar reach like some of their right-wing or Russian counterparts in recent years, especially on social network sites. Comparing user interactions with mainstream media content to that of right-wing alternative media on Facebook, studies in various European countries have shown that alternative outlets occasionally outperform mainstream media in terms of shares Kalsnes and Larsson, 2021;Larsson, 2019Larsson, , 2020Marchal et al, 2019;Sandberg and Ihlebaek, 2019;Schröder, 2018;Winterbauer, 2016). 1 The studies suggest that alternative media have a small, but active followership strongly committed to spreading their content. Since high share rates resonate with the logic of news algorithms designed to maximize user engagement, they are likely to enhance the prioritization of alternative media in personalized feeds (Papakyriakopoulos et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
Citizens are likely to encounter various types of alternative media online, especially on algorithmically personalized news channels (APNC) like social network sites or search engines. It is unclear, however, to what degree they are aware of these outlets and familiar with the concept of alternative media. This study investigates the relation between exposure to alternative media and knowledge of them, taking the role of APNC into account. Analyzing representative survey data of German Internet users, we find a gap: While many individuals report to use alternative media, few of them are able to name alternative media titles matching scholarly conceptions. Although the use of APNC increases self-reported exposure to alternative media, it does not improve actual knowledge of them. All in all, many Internet users have little awareness of alternative media and do not clearly distinguish between different types of sources they come across online.
... Similar to zero-day phishing, disinformation is constantly morphing, such that "zero-day" disinformation may thwart already-established algorithms, such was the case with the COVID-19 pandemic [28]. Additionally, the final determination of a fake, true, or hyperpartisan label is fraught 4. A new, not-yet reported phishing email. ...
... Additionally, our dataset is U.S.-centric, identified as a limitation in some prior work (e.g., [4], [73], [74]). All texts were ensured to be in the English language and all three groups of data were presumably aimed at an American audience. ...
Full-text available
Phishing and disinformation are popular social engineering attacks with attackers invariably applying influence cues in texts to make them more appealing to users. We introduce Lumen, a learning-based framework that exposes influence cues in text: (i) persuasion, (ii) framing, (iii) emotion, (iv) objectivity/subjectivity, (v) guilt/blame, and (vi) use of emphasis. Lumen was trained with a newly developed dataset of 3K texts comprised of disinformation, phishing, hyperpartisan news, and mainstream news. Evaluation of Lumen in comparison to other learning models showed that Lumen and LSTM presented the best F1-micro score, but Lumen yielded better interpretability. Our results highlight the promise of ML to expose influence cues in text, towards the goal of application in automatic labeling tools to improve the accuracy of human-based detection and reduce the likelihood of users falling for deceptive online content.
... The contemporary media economy presents an unprecedented situation for media actors that appears to be, at the very same time, dependent on social media platforms to reach their readers while often lamenting that their work is freely used, without any licensing fee, by the same social media giants [32]. The changes in the dissemination platforms as well as in the revenue model of news-media actors have been connected both with the emergence of click-baiting [33] as well as to increased level of partisanship that has, in recent times, given a more and more central role to hyperpartisan news actors [34][35][36] Within the described context, news-media actors, while still trying to avoid the backlash from the public, are encouraged to cultivate their own partisan communities [37] that, through their networked connection, will facilitate newsmedia's long-term existence. ...
Full-text available
Social media represent an important source of news for many users. They are, however, affected by misinformation and they might be playing a role in the growth of political polarization. In this paper, we create an agent based model to investigate how policing content and backlash on social media (i.e. conflict) can lead to an increase in polarization for both users and news sources. Our model is an advancement over previously proposed models because it allows us to study the polarization of both users and news sources, the evolution of the audience connections between users and sources, and it makes more realistic assumptions about the starting conditions of the system. We find that the tendency of users and sources to avoid policing, backlash and conflict in general can increase polarization online. Specifically polarization comes from the ease of sharing political posts, intolerance for opposing points of view causing backlash and policing, and volatility in changing one’s opinion when faced with new information. On the other hand, it seems that the integrity of a news source in trying to resist the backlash and policing has little effect.
... Compartición de noticias en redes sociales introducción Las redes sociales han revolucionado el proceso de consumo y distribución de noticias (Kalsnes & Larsson, 2019), que abandona un modelo de emisión unidireccional y adopta un paradigma de distribución multidireccional por parte de los usuarios (Noguera-Vivo, 2018). Resulta así vital comprender cómo y por qué los individuos comparten noticias en estos entornos. ...
Full-text available
Este artículo analiza el modo en el que los diferentes objetivos definidos por la teoría del poder social se relacionan con la forma en la que los ciudadanos comparten noticias. Esta teoría postula que las interacciones entre los individuos persiguen alcanzar determinados objetivos por parte de sus interlocutores (recompensa, coerción, legitimación, identificación y demostración de conocimiento). Se busca identificar cómo influyen en las noticias (duras o blandas, emocionales o útiles) que se comparten y dónde (plataformas abiertas asimétricas, como Facebook o Twitter, basadas en modelos de difusión, o entornos cerrados de difusión selectiva como WhatsApp). Se emplea un método de muestreo de experiencias que recogió información acerca de 830 noticias compartidas por 279 participantes adultos en España. Los objetivos más comunes fueron recompensa, legitimación y demostración de conocimiento. Las redes abiertas asimétricas se emplean para compartir noticias con objetivos proselitistas (convencer, persuadir o corregir). Estos objetivos se buscan mediante la difusión de noticias duras, mientras que las noticias blandas se emplean principalmente para recompensar a los contactos, entendido como una manera de estrechar lazos sociales ya existentes. El aspecto emocional (afecto positivo) de las noticias solo adquiere relevancia si el objetivo es la identificación. En el resto de las ocasiones, se comparten preferentemente noticias consideradas útiles. Palabras clave: redes sociales; compartición de noticias; poder social; noticias duras; noticias blandas; afecto positive; utilidad.
... Los numerosos estudios publicados relativos a la participación social en mensajes y noticias (Schonig, 2020;Kalsnes y Larsson, 2019;Liang, 2019;Bentivegna y Marchetti, 2019; Salgado y Bobba, 2019) hace pensar que la sociedad va a participar cada vez más en exponer su opinión respecto a este tipo de noticias. Por ello, se plantea la hipótesis número tres. ...
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En este estudio se analiza la participación de los lectores en noticias sobre siniestros en los medios digitales españoles. El trabajo compara el número de veces que se indica “me gusta”, “compartido” y “comentado” en las noticias sobre los principales sucesos de muertes por causa externa: accidentes de tráfico, caídas, ahogamientos y suicidios. Para ello, se han recopilado piezas periodísticas del periodo 2010-2017 a través de la hemeroteca Mynewsonline. Se ha llevado a cabo un análisis de contenido en una muestra representativa de noticias (n=4.733), donde se ha medido el número de reacciones para cada noticia en los seis principales medios de comunicación digitales españoles (,,,, y Se ha estudiado también la relación de esta participación de los lectores según el tipo de siniestro, los rasgos sensacionalistas que presente la noticia y el carácter popular de las víctimas. Los resultados confirman una baja participación social en los indicativos de “me gusta” y “compartido” y una mayor actividad en los comentarios de las noticias, sobre todo en los casos de suicidio, en noticias con rasgos sensacionalistas y cuando la víctima es un personaje popularmente conocido.
The article examines the phenomenon of the influence of social networks on election campaigns using the example of Norway. For an introduction to the context of the electoral situation in Norway, the author describes the election programs of the main Norwegian political parties. Methods of content analysis and discourse analysis are used to better understand network voter mobilization. The author provides a review of the literature on this topic in order to substantiate the need for the applied methodology. The analysis of the share of Internet users in different countries has been carried out. The most popular social networks have been identified and the networks that are best suited for political mobilization and are used in Norway have been identified. The author carried out a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the official Facebook accounts of the Norwegian parliamentary parties during the election campaign in 2021. The study revealed the main trends in the behavior of political parties and their voters on the Facebook social network. The author concludes that all political parties in Norway use social networks as one of the main channels for mobilizing supporters. In addition, this tool allows parties to respond to current topics and changing voter sentiments.
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Law and the legal system through which law is effected are very powerful, yet the power of the law has always been limited by the laws of nature, upon which the law has now direct grip. Human law now faces an unprecedented challenge, the emergence of a second limit on its grip, a new “species” of intelligent agents (AI machines) that can perform cognitive tasks that until recently only humans could. What happens, as a matter of law, when another species interacts with us, can be integrated into human minds and bodies, makes “real-world” decisions—not through human proxies, but directly—and does all this “intelligently”, with what one could call autonomous agency or even a “mind” of its own? The article starts from the clear premise that control cannot be exercised directly on AI machines through human law. That control can only be effected through laws that apply to humans. This has several regulatory implications. The article’s first discusses what, in any attempt to regulate AI machines, the law can achieve. Having identified what the law can do, the article then canvases what the law should aim to achieve overall. The article encapsulate its analysis in a list of both doctrinal and normative principles that should underpin any regulation aimed at AI machines. Finally, the article compares three transnational options to implement the proposed regulatory approach.
This research examines the key characteristics of hyperpartisan news pages on Facebook and how audiences interact with politically polarized content through the visual-emotional shorthand of Facebook Reactions. Through a quantitative content analysis of 4,236 posts shared by the most popular hyperpartisan U.S. Facebook pages before, during, and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, the researchers introduce the concept of affective affordances to analyse emotional reactions elicited through Facebook Reactions in response to right- and left-leaning Facebook news posts, as well as the political topics, rhetorical devices, stylistic devices and emotionally charged content that are most likely to elicit emotional responses and inspire shares and comments from audiences in reaction to liberal and conservative content. The results are interpreted in light of the theory of affective intelligence.
The global rise of hyper-partisan media, especially on the political right, has been receiving increasing scholarly attention in the past years. In contrast to discarding these media as mere producers of fake news, this paper studies them as a case of alternative news media and thus as a self-proclaimed corrective to a perceived media mainstream. By focusing on the case of Denmark, where the public debate generally has been described as very open, the paper sheds light on the alternative character of these media in an environment that does not shun radical voices and viewpoints. Based on a qualitative content analysis of the entire website and article content published by five right-wing alternative news media in April 2019, the paper shows that Danish right-wing alternative media resist normalization at the structural level, but appear only moderately antagonistic and anti-hegemonic at the level of article content.
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This study details the influence of hyperpartisan media actors in comparison to regional and national news media competitors by gauging audience engagement in relation to news on Facebook in Norway. Adopting the perspective of news use as a way of understanding such engagement, the study finds that followers of hyperpartisan Facebook pages are more active than those following mainstream media pages. The study also looks closer into what kinds of news are engaged with to higher degrees than others, building on these results in suggesting opportunities for future research into news production and consumption on Facebook.
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So-called “fake news” has renewed concerns about the prevalence and effects of misinformation in political campaigns. Given the potential for widespread dissemination of this material, we examine the individual-level characteristics associated with sharing false articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. To do so, we uniquely link an original survey with respondents’ sharing activity as recorded in Facebook profile data. First and foremost, we find that sharing this content was a relatively rare activity. Conservatives were more likely to share articles from fake news domains, which in 2016 were largely pro-Trump in orientation, than liberals or moderates. We also find a strong age effect, which persists after controlling for partisanship and ideology: On average, users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.
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Over the last decade, a network of far-right alternative online media has emerged globally. At the same time, legacy news media have suffered a decline in trust and revenues. In this context, the present article analyses how journalistic authority is questioned and challenged in far-right alternative media, highlighting how these websites claim authority as media critics. The study rests on a qualitative analysis of 600 news articles published on far-right alternative online sites containing evaluations of legacy news media or journalists; it identifies five different positions of authority employed by far-right media critics, constituted around particular forms of knowledge: (i) the insider position (knowledge of the professional journalistic field); (ii) the expert position (factual legitimacy built on statistics and facts); (iii) the victim position (experiential legitimacy as media victim); (iv) the citizen position (democratic legitimacy/representing the people) and (v) the activist position (street legitimacy through confrontation and active resistance).
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The distrust of mainstream media expressed in the slogan ‘the liar press’ (‘Lügenpresse’) is often used as an example of a populist, anti-establishment attitude that is currently winning terrain throughout the Western world. In combination with the rise of alternative media (especially online), it poses a serious challenge for ‘old media’. But how do those who are most suspicious and critical relate to the mainstream media in their own media channels? In this article, we have compared the official Facebook pages of the PEGIDA movement in Germany and Austria, in order to describe their use of references to traditional/mainstream and alternative media. The results indicate that references to mainstream and alternative media are distributed almost equally. Furthermore, when there are references to mainstream media, they are generally of an affirmative nature. These findings are relevant for the debate about cyberbalcanization, echo chambers, filter bubbles and the impact of alternative media on public discourse.
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Building on studies of the hybrid media system and attention economy, we develop the concept of amplification to explore how the activities of social media–based publics may enlarge the attention paid to a given person or message. We apply the concept to the 2016 US election, asking who constituted Donald Trump’s enormous Twitter following and how that following contributed to his success at attracting attention, including from the mainstream press. Using spectral clustering based on social network similarity, we identify key publics that constituted Trump’s Twitter following and demonstrate how particular publics amplified his social media presence in different ways. Our discussion raises questions about how algorithms “read” metrics to guide content on social media platforms, how journalists draw on social media metrics in their determinations of news value and worthiness, and how the process of amplification relates to possibilities of citizen action through digital communication.
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This paper is based on a review of how previous studies have defined and operationalized the term “fake news.” An examination of 34 academic articles that used the term “fake news” between 2003 and 2017 resulted in a typology of types of fake news: news satire, news parody, fabrication, manipulation, advertising, and propaganda. These definitions are based on two dimensions: levels of facticity and deception. Such a typology is offered to clarify what we mean by fake news and to guide future studies.
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Political communication on social media is the topic of this dissertation. The Internet and social media platforms have provided participants in the public sphere with new ways to connect, communicate and distribute information. This study examines how and why the three main actor groups within political communication – political actors, media actors and citizens – connect and interact on social media during the electoral process in Norway in 2013. This hybrid media landscape is characterized by political actors who can bypass media as gatekeepers and communicate directly with voters on their own Facebook pages. Simultaneously, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are important traffic drivers for mass media, as well as convenient ways for political journalists to reach readers and political sources. Nevertheless, as I argue in this dissertation, the new mechanisms for attention, visibility and popularity on social media platforms is not sufficiently articulated or understood in the existing research literature. This dissertation suggests that the emerging theories of social media logic can help us understand how political communication occur in networked publics. Central in my arguments is a critical understanding of social media logic and affordances offered by communication technologies. Affordances are here understood as the action possibilities that communication technologies allow for, such as liking, sharing or measuring the response of an item. Based on the empirical findings from the articles in Part II, as well as the theoretical discussion in this cover chapter, I have developed the conceptual framework for political communication on social media, which allows us to analyse how political communication occurs on social media platforms. The conceptual framework consists of five high-level affordances: Publishing, visibility, networking, connectivity, and segmentation. I argue that these affordances are the building blocks of the social media logic in political communication. Lastly, this dissertation outlines the implications of the social media logic for the three key actor groups in this study. I argue that one of the main consequences of the social media logic is media actors’ weakening role as gatekeepers of information, potential turning media actors into curators of information.
The use of social media for sharing political information and the status of news as an essential raw material for good citizenship are both generating increasing public concern. We add to the debates about misinformation, disinformation, and “fake news” using a new theoretical framework and a unique research design integrating survey data and analysis of observed news sharing behaviors on social media. Using a media-as-resources perspective, we theorize that there are elective affinities between tabloid news and misinformation and disinformation behaviors on social media. Integrating four data sets we constructed during the 2017 UK election campaign—individual-level data on news sharing (N = 1,525,748 tweets), website data (N = 17,989 web domains), news article data (N = 641 articles), and data from a custom survey of Twitter users (N = 1313 respondents)—we find that sharing tabloid news on social media is a significant predictor of democratically dysfunctional misinformation and disinformation behaviors. We explain the consequences of this finding for the civic culture of social media and the direction of future scholarship on fake news.
This study sought to empirically test whether exposure to and use of new audience feedback mechanisms have an influence on journalism culture. Specifically, the study was interested in testing whether such mechanisms impact the extent to which journalists perceive changes over time in their role conceptions. Such an exploration is timely and important. The roles journalists conceive of are shaped, in part, by what they think audiences expect from them. Such expectations are now communicated to journalists routinely and easily through new audience feedback mechanisms: reader comments, social media, and web analytics. Based on an online survey of 358 news journalists in Australia, this study found that reading readers’ comments frequently is related to an increase in the perceived importance of both consumer and citizen orientations. In contrast, perceived effectiveness of web analytics as audience feedback is related to an increase in the perceived importance of consumer orientation.