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Does fake news, also known as stories based on false information, influence voters? 

Although its effect may be small, one study concluded fake news did influence the outcome of the very close 2016 presidential election. 

The Ohio State University study suggests that about 4% of President Barack Obama’s 2012 supporters were dissuaded from voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by belief in stories based on false information.

According to Facebook in prepared Senate testimony, 126 million Americans were shown Russian-backed, politically-oriented false stories via the social media platform during the 2016 US presidential election campaign.

Not every Facebook user exposed to the fake news articles read the stories of course. But if only a fraction did and were influenced by them, it could have changed the outcome of a very close race, as the study above suggests.

Fake news outdraws real

Also, leading up to the 2016 presidential election, the 20 most popular false stories got more shares, reactions and comments (8.7 million engagements) than the most popular 20 real news stories (7.3 million engagements), according to NPR.

Social media drives more users to fake news sites than real ones.  More than 40% of visits to 65 fake news sites come from social media when compared to about 10% of visits to 690 top US news sites, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

More than one-quarter of voting-age adults visited a fake news website supporting either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the final weeks of the
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