The 2016 presidential election led to international debates about filter bubbles and the spread of misinformation, with many analyzing how the proliferation of fabricated content may have helped Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
But Trump’s chaotic first weeks in office – filled with a steady stream of astonishing news developments that have rattled progressives – has laid the groundwork for what could be a significant uptick in fake news, misleading articles and propaganda with a distinctly liberal bent.
“Whoever is in power is going to be the target [of fake news],” said Eugene Kiely, director of FactCheck.org, which is partnering with Facebook to help identify false news stories.
Research has suggested that there was a huge volume of fake news across the political spectrum during the election, but that pro-Trump false stories were much more widespread than pro-Clinton ones. Some of the most high-profile examples, such as the conspiracy theory that Clinton was tied to a child sex ring, fed rightwing narratives.
Media and communications experts suspect those dynamics could shift under Trump. In an interview with the Atlantic, Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of the fact-checking site Snopes, said she had seen a spike in the amount and popularity of fake news directed toward liberal audiences.