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Communications of the ACM


Deceiving the Masses on Social Media

people holding pages with social icons


Considerable attention has been paid to the impact of social media on the electoral process, given that 55% of U.S. adults now get their news from social media either "often" or "sometimes"-an 8% increase from the previous year, according to a Pew Research study published in October 2019, which was conducted in July 2019. This is concerning because, according to the Pew data, 88% of Americans understand and realize that social media companies now have at least some control over the mix of the news consumed each day, and 62% believe social media companies have far too much control over the content mix of news that is seen each day.

Much of the concern about social media companies controlling the news is visceral. However, a study published in the journal Nature in September 2019 identified and explained mathematically how social media companies may unwittingly become a disruptive force to the democratic process, via a concept called information gerrymandering.


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