Ever since Brexit and Trump took the political establishment by surprise, its representatives have been claiming that we are living in a “post-truth” world, where facts and experts are no longer trusted, and information is dominated by “fake news”. This is an understandable, if self-serving, coping mechanism of liberals and establishment conservatives to deal with their shocking loss of political power. It is also simplistic and self-defeating.
Let’s look at the evidence.
At first sight, recent studies seem to provide a solid basis for the popular assertion that populism and fake news are closely connected, and have therefore been widely cited in the media. Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) found that “on Twitter, a network of Trump supporters shares the widest range of junk news and circulates more junk news than all other political audience groups combined”.