Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, much attention has been focused on the role of bots in promoting political news on Twitter. But bots can play a role in spreading many other types of news and information as well.
Indeed, a new Pew Research Center analysis finds that suspected bots are far more active in sharing links to news sites focusing on nonpolitical content than to sites with a political focus. And when they do share political news on Twitter, suspected bots are more likely to link to sites with ideologically centrist audiences than to ones with staunchly liberal or conservative followings.
More about this analysis
To conduct the analysis, researchers examined 108,552 tweeted links to 50 popular news websites sent during a six-week period in the summer of 2017. The sites all produce original content and include those associated with legacy news organizations (outlets that originated in print or broadcast) as well as digital-native sites (outlets that were “born on the web”). Researchers identified potential bot accounts by using a multistep process that is explained here.
Here are some key findings from the analysis:
1Suspected bots share a smaller proportion of links to popular news sites compared with other kinds of websites. Suspected bots shared 59% of tweeted links to the 50 news sites in the analysis. While that figure may sound high, it is lower than the average from a previous Pew Research Center analysis, which found that suspected bots shared 66% of tweeted links to a broader set of more than 2,000 popular websites, including sites focused on commercial products, sports and other subjects.
The 50 sites in the news analysis include the digital versions of print newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as sites for television and radio broadcasting organizations such as CNN, Fox News and NPR.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its longtime Bavarian political partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), are locked in a struggle over German immigration policy that could, if not resolved, lead to the fall of the Merkel government.
These differences are also evident among backers of the two parties, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Both CDU (76%) and CSU (81%) adherents believe it is necessary for immigrants to adopt German customs and traditions, according to the survey, conducted among 1,983 German adults in late 2017. However, differences emerge when those who identify with the two conservative parties are asked about the impact of immigrants on German society.
Nearly seven-in-ten CSU supporters (68%) say immigrants increase the risk of terrorist attacks in Germany, compared with 47% of CDU backers. Similarly, 27% of those who identify with the CSU voice the view that immigrants are a burden on the German economy, but just 13% of CDU supporters feel the same way.
Restrictions on religion increased around the world in 2016, according to Pew Research Center’s ninth annual study on global restrictions on religion. This is the second year in a row that overall restrictions on religion – whether the result of government actions or by individuals or societal groups – increased in the 198 countries included in the study.
Here are some of the key findings from the new report:
1More than a quarter (28%) of countries had “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions on religion in 2016, an increase from 25% the year before. This is the largest share of countries in these categories since 2013. Countries in the “high” or “very high” categories scored at least a 4.5 on the Government Restrictions Index. The index is a 10-point scale based on 20 indicators of government restrictions on religion, including limits on proselytizing and public preaching, or detentions and assaults of religious group members. Laos, for example, joined the “very high” restrictions category in 2016, due in part to a new government decree that allows the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop any religious activity that it sees as counter to policies, traditional customs or laws within its jurisdiction.
As special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election continues, most Americans express confidence in him to conduct a fair investigation. But the public is far less confident in Donald Trump to handle matters related to the investigation appropriately.
Republicans and Democrats offer starkly different assessments of Mueller’s conduct of the investigation and Trump’s ability to deal with it, and these partisan differences extend to views of the importance of the investigation itself.
Overall, most Americans (55%) say they are either very (28%) or somewhat (27%) confident that Mueller will conduct a fair investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Four-in-ten say they are not too (19%) or not at all confident (21%) in his ability to do this.
The public expresses less confidence in Trump. Just 41% say they are very or somewhat confident that he will handle matters related to the special counsel investigation appropriately, while most (57%) say they are not too or not at all confident that he will do this, according to a national Pew Research Center survey conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults.
Confidence in Mueller has edged lower since March, when 61% were confident he would lead a fair investigation. Views have shifted, in part, due to declining assessments among Republicans.
Changes in marriage and childbearing have reshaped the American family over the past half-century. Adults are marrying later in life, and a rising share are forgoing marriage altogether. The rise in unmarried people, in turn, has contributed to increasing shares of U.S. births outside of marriage and children living with an unmarried parent.
While these trends are occurring nationwide, they are playing out somewhat differently across urban, suburban and rural counties, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Some of these variations are linked to demographic differences across the three community types – for instance, urban areas have higher shares of black residents, and rural areas have higher shares of older people.
Differences in race and ethnicity account for some of these disparities, since urban areas have a larger share of black residents, who are typically less likely to be married than other racial groups. Even so, the marriage gap across community types remains when looking only at whites: 49% of urban whites are married, compared with 53% of suburban whites and 54% of rural whites. And among blacks, those living in suburban areas are somewhat more likely to be married (32%) than those living in rural (27%) or urban (26%) areas.
Nationalist and anti-immigrant attitudes in Western Europe have been an issue in a number of recent national elections around the region, particularly after the influx in the past few years of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries. But Western Europeans vary by country when it comes to having positive or negative views about immigrants and religious minorities, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
To better examine the prevalence of these attitudes, the Center developed a scale to measure the extent of Nationalist, anti-Immigrant and anti-religious Minority (NIM) sentiment. The NIM scale combines answers to 22 survey questions on a wide range of issues including views on Muslims, Jews and immigrants, as well as immigration policy.
Most Americans favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children. And a 56% majority opposes substantially expanding the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children, while just 20% are opposed, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults. Opinions on this issue – and views of expanding the U.S.-Mexico border wall – have changed little since January.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly favor granting legal status to those who came to the U.S. illegally as children (89%), as do about half of Republicans and Republican leaners (54%); about a third of Republicans (36%) oppose this policy. (The findings in this survey do not relate to the current controversy over separating immigrants from their children at the border, but only to children who had already arrived in the U.S. with their families.)
News consumers today are confronted with a tangle of statements and assertions that run the gamut from purely factual to purely opinion. Being able to quickly tell where a news statement fits on that spectrum is key to being an informed reader or viewer. But how good are Americans at distinguishing factual news statements from opinions? A new Pew Research Center report attempts to answer that question. Below, Amy Mitchell, the Center’s director of journalism research, explains how the study was put together and what it found.
This is a different sort of study than the news and knowledge quizzes that the Center has used in the past. Why did you want to address the question of people’s ability to distinguish factual from opinion news statements?
When getting their news these days, Americans need to quickly decide how to understand news-related statements that can come in snippets or with little or no context. At the same time, there’s a growing political divide in which sources Americans get news from and trust. For us, this raises questions about how well the public is equipped to parse through news in the current environment.
And so we studied a basic step in that process: differentiating factual statements – ones that can be proved or disproved with objective evidence – from opinion statements, which are expressions of beliefs or values. Americans’ ability to make this distinction may shape their ability to undertake some of the other tasks being asked of them as news consumers, such as fact-checking or differentiating straight reporting from op-eds.
A majority of Americans continue to say the United States is a better place to live as a result of its growing racial and ethnic diversity.
About six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) say that having an increasing number of people of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; just 9% say it makes the country a worse place to live, while about three-in-ten (31%) say it doesn’t make much difference either way, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May. These attitudes are only modestly changed from last year.
There remain wide differences in these views by party and ideology. Seven-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say growing diversity in the U.S. makes it a better place to live, including 78% of Democrats who describe themselves as liberal. A smaller majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (66%) say the same.
By comparison, about half of Republicans and Republican leaners (47%) see a positive impact of growing diversity in the U.S.; 37% say it doesn’t make much difference, and another 14% say it makes the country a worse place to live. While positive views among Republicans vary little by ideology, negative views are somewhat more widespread among conservative Republicans than moderate and liberal Republicans. About one-in-six conservative Republicans (17%) say growing racial and ethnic diversity makes the country worse, while just 7% of moderate and liberal Republicans agree.
Younger generations make up a majority of the electorate, but may not be a majority of voters this November
Generation X, Millennials and the post-Millennial generation make up a clear majority of voting-eligible adults in the United States, but if past midterm election turnout patterns hold true, they are unlikely to cast the majority of votes this November. Not only are younger adults less likely to participate in midterm elections, but Millennials and Gen Xers have a track record of low turnout in midterms compared with older generations when they were the same age.
As of April 2018 (the most recent data available), 59% of adults who are eligible to vote are Gen Xers, Millennials or “post-Millennials.” In the 2014 midterm election, which had a historically low turnout, these younger generations accounted for 53% of eligible voters but cast just 36 million votes – 21 million fewer than the Boomer, Silent and Greatest generations, who are ages 54 and older in 2018.
Since 2014, the number of voting-eligible Gen Xers, Millennials and post-Millennials has increased by 18 million. Some of this increase stems from Gen Xers and Millennials who have naturalized and become U.S. citizens. But the bulk of it is due to the addition of 15 million adult post-Millennials (18 to 21 years old) who are now voting age.
Meanwhile, the electoral potential of Baby Boomers and older generations has declined since the last midterm. Driven mainly by deaths, there are now 10 million fewer eligible voters among the Boomer and older generations than there were in 2014.