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Junk News on Military Affairs and National Security

Published on
9 Oct 2017
Written by
Robert Gorwa

Social media provides political news and information for both active duty military personnel and veterans. We analyze the subgroups of Twitter and Facebook users who spend time consuming junk news from websites that target US military personnel and veterans with conspiracy theories, misinformation, and other forms of junk news about military affairs and national security issues. (1) Over Twitter we find that there are significant and persistent interactions between current and former military personnel and a broad network of extremist, Russia-focused, and international conspiracy subgroups. (2) Over Facebook, we find significant and persistent interactions between public pages for military and veterans and subgroups dedicated to political conspiracy, and both sides of the political spectrum. (3) Over Facebook, the users who are most interested in conspiracy theories and the political right seem to be distributing the most junk news, whereas users who are either in the military or are veterans are among the most sophisticated news consumers, and share very little junk news through the network.

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John D. Gallacher, Vlad Barash, Philip N. Howard, and John Kelly. “Junk News on Military Affairs and National Security: Social Media Disinformation Campaigns Against US Military Personnel and Veterans.” Data Memo 2017.9. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda.

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