Fake news and bots may be worrisome, but their political power is overblown

It’s very hard to change people’s minds, especially when so many are already committed partisans

By Brendan Nyhan | The New York Times

How easy is it to change people’s votes in an election?

The answer, a growing number of studies conclude, is that most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.

This conclusion may sound jarring at a time when people are concerned about the effects of the false news articles that flooded Facebook and other online outlets during the 2016 election. Observers speculated that these so-called fake news articles swung the election to Donald J. Trump. Similar suggestions of large persuasion effects, supposedly pushing Mr. Trump to victory, have been made about online advertising from the firm Cambridge Analytica and content promoted by Russian bots.

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