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Foreign interference in U.S. politics: An examination of "fake news" content on social media

Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Fake news has become a powerful and disruptive force in the social media environment, with serious consequences for democracy. As a result, news organizations and tech companies have taken measures to reduce or eliminate the propagation and dissemination of fake news. The current study analyzes data gathered from Facebook and Twitter from two major events that occurred in U.S. politics: the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2019/2020 impeachment inquiry and trial of Donald Trump. Qualitative content analysis revealed that the majority of posts and tweets examined in this study could be classified as fake news, and that they were decidedly pro-Trump in angle. Through the lens of agenda setting theory, it was observed that the major issues covered in both time periods under study favoured Trump and his policies, while they denigrated the Democratic party and its members. Multiple themes emerged that shed new light on the tactics employed by hostile foreign actors to micro-target and influence social media users.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Frank, Richard
Member of collection
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