The 2016 US elections continue to fuel discussions of all sorts. Suspicion is one topic that surely prevails. Studies like the one released by England's Oxford University nourish claims of this sort. The research analyzed Twitter content by shady self-identified Michigan users and confirmed the falsity of many of the news shared on the days leading up to Election Day as well as in the aftermath.

Fake news and the 2016 US elections

Oxford University's study is titled "Junk News and Bots during the U.S. Election: What Were Michigan Voters Sharing Over Twitter?" The Oxford Internet Institute expected a hard-fought race between the candidates for Michigan (Trump ended up with a narrow victory), so this state was viewed as a suitable choice to study.

The research covered the Twitter feeds of Michigan users during the period between November 1 and 11. Specifically, 138,686 tweets were examined, with pro-Trump comments appearing three times more than pro-Clinton ones. 46.5 percent of the content is described as "untrustworthy" or falls under the category of "propaganda based on its use of language and emotional appeals."

While 24,783 tweets contained links, only 6,408 of these links referred to content with relevant and professional news, compared to the 6,469 that referred to content that was "propaganda," "ideologically extreme," or "dubious," according to the researchers. In addition, 211 tweets shared "Russian-origin news stories" and 1,186 shared news from Wikileaks, which are described as "unverified," and these were intended to be detrimental to Hillary Clinton's image.

Perpetuating Suspicion

Despite the study's unwillingness to focus on where all the Fake News originated from or how the campaign, if any, was orchestrated, Dave Dulio, chairman of the Oakland University political science department, was confident enough to state that the study was able to corroborate some of the suspicions that surrounded the elections and continue to do so today.

Clint Watts, a former FBI agent, recently spoke in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee and divulged the Russians' ability to meddle in the US election by launching such a calculated campaign in social media.

Media literacy is a point of attention in the study, and so it is in some schools now. An example is the University of Michigan which offers a "fake news" course that attempts to help people better assess what they consume in the online world, including how to differentiate lies from facts. What is apparent, according to the study, is that lies were successfully perpetuated during the last US elections.