The New Gatekeepers

Top Facebook ‘reporters’ include fake news creators, hyper-partisan sources

March 9, 2018

NewsWhip, an analytics company that measures social-media activity, looked at its data and came up with a list of news reporters who get the most engagement on Facebook in February, and number one was Ryan Shattuck, of the satirical news site The Onion. Number 2 was Jonah Urich, who works for a left-wing site called Truth Examiner, known for posting sensationalized political news. Daily Wire, another hyper-partisan political news site, also took several spots in the top 10. As NewsWhip describes it:

Beyond the Onion, the top authors were primarily from hyper-partisan sources like the Daily Wire, Truth Examiner, Breitbart, Washington Press, and several small but politically charged sites. Horrifyingly enough, two authors from fake news sites featured. An author from the fake news site Your Newswire was towards the top of our list, ranking in at #12. Baxter Dmitry wrote 81 articles in February, driving more than 1.7 million Facebook interactions.

Facebook has said it plans to change its algorithm so that more “high quality” news shows up in the News Feed, but that could be easier said than done. The company said it would rank news sources based in part on whether they drive engagement and discussion, and what NewsWhip’s data reinforces is that the most engaging content is often fake, or at least highly sensationalized.

Mathew Ingram is CJR’s chief digital writer. Previously, he was a senior writer with Fortune magazine. He has written about the intersection between media and technology since the earliest days of the commercial internet. His writing has been published in the Washington Post and the Financial Times as well as by Reuters and Bloomberg.