All FSI Events Seminars

Exposure to Untrustworthy Websites in the 2020 US Election

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Pacific)

image of jeff hancock on blue background with ryan moore and ross dahlke

Join us on Tuesday, May 17th from 12 PM - 1 PM PT for “Exposure to Untrustworthy Websites in the 2020 US Election” featuring Jeff Hancock, Ross Dahlke & Ryan Moore of the Social Media Lab. This weekly seminar series is jointly organized by the Cyber Policy Center’s Program on Democracy and the Internet and the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative.

About The Seminar: 

Prior research has documented exposure to fake news and online misinformation using large-scale data on individuals’ media use, which has provided important information about the scope and nature of people’s exposure to misinformation online. However, most of this work has made use of data collected during the 2016 US election, and far fewer studies have examined how exposure to misinformation online has changed since 2016. In this paper, we examine exposure to untrustworthy websites in the lead up to the 2020 US election using a dataset of over 7.5 million passively tracked website visits from a nationally representative sample of American adults (N = 1,151). We find that a significantly smaller percentage of Americans were exposed to untrustworthy websites in 2020 compared to in 2016 (as calculated by Guess et al. [2020]). While exposure was concentrated among similar groups of people as it was in 2016, levels of exposure appear to be lower across the board. There were also differences in the role online platforms played in directing people to untrustworthy websites in 2020 compared to 2016. Our findings have implications for future research and practice around online misinformation.

About The Speakers:

Jeff Hancock is the founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab and is Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Professor Hancock and his group work on understanding psychological and interpersonal processes in social media. The team specializes in using computational linguistics and experiments to understand how the words we use can reveal psychological and social dynamics, such as deception and trust, emotional dynamics, intimacy and relationships, and social support. Recently Professor Hancock has begun work on understanding the mental models people have about algorithms in social media, as well as working on the ethical issues associated with computational social science.

Ross Dahlke, from Westfield, Wisconsin, is pursuing a PhD in theory and research in the Stanford Social Media Lab at the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science. Ross’s research focuses on applying AI and computational techniques to understand how people interact with complex systems. Before graduate school, he was a data scientist at a marketing technology firm where he developed machine learning platforms that helped Fortune 500 companies optimize their digital marketing spend in order to drive sales. He has also consulted on dozens of state-wide and local political campaigns. In high school, Ross started a cheese distribution business which has sold more than $3 million in cheese.

Ryan Moore studies how features of new media platforms and technologies affect the consumption, processing, and sharing of information, especially information about politics and news. In addition, he is interested in the role that age plays in internet and technology use, particularly as it relates to encountering deceptive or misleading content.