We used supervised machine-learning techniques to examine ideological asymmetries in online rumor transmission. Although liberals were more likely than conservatives to communicate in general about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings (Study 1, N = 26,422) and 2020 death of the sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein (Study 2, N = 141,670), conservatives were more likely to share rumors. Rumor-spreading decreased among liberals following official correction, but it increased among conservatives. Marathon rumors were spread twice as often by conservatives pre-correction, and nearly 10 times more often post-correction. Epstein rumors were spread twice as often by conservatives pre-correction, and nearly, eight times more often post-correction. With respect to ideologically congenial rumors, conservatives circulated the rumor that the Clinton family was involved in Epstein’s death 18.6 times more often than liberals circulated the rumor that the Trump family was involved. More than 96% of all fake news domains were shared by conservative Twitter users.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- political psychology
- social media