Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?

September 20, 2022

Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?

Nicolò Fraccaroli recently co-authored a paper titled, "Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?" that will be published in the January 2023 issue of Research Policy, and is currently available online.

We study the impact of fake news on votes for populist parties in the Italian elections of 2018. Our empirical strategy exploits the historical variation in Italian-speaking and German-speaking voters in the Italian region of Trentino Alto-Adige/Südtirol as an exogenous source of assignment to fake news exposure. Using municipal data, we compare the effect of exposure to fake news on the vote for populist parties in the 2013 and 2018 elections. To do so, we introduce a novel indicator of populism using text mining on the Facebook posts of Italian parties before the elections. Our findings support the view that exposure to fake news favours populist parties regardless of prior support for populist parties, but also that fake news alone cannot explain most of the growth in populism.