Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?

    • Ghent October 2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Michele Cantarella, Fondazione Marco Biagi, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia / European Central Bank
      • Nicolò Fraccaroli, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
      • Roberto Volpe, Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), Italy


    Over the last decade, the erosion of trust in public institutions and traditional media sources have been proceeding in parallel. Recent developments in media consumption have led to a proliferation of politically charged online misinformation. In this paper we investigate whether the spread of fake news has affected the results of recent elections, contributing to the growth of populist party platforms. We aim to quantify the causal effect of the spread of misinformation over electoral outcomes in the 2018 Italian General elections. The presence of Italian and German linguistic groups in the Trento and Bolzano/Bozen autonomous provinces offers a unique source of exogenous variation, as it assigns individuals into distinct filter bubbles each differently exposed to misinformation. We introduce a novel index based on text mining techniques to measure populism. We construct a novel database with social media content of each party and their leaders over the course of the electoral campaign for the 2013 and 2018 elections. Our results indicate that misinformation had a negligible and non-significant effect on populist vote in Trentino and South Tyrol during the Italian 2018 general elections