Junk News Distribution on Telegram: The Visibility of English-language News Sources on Public Telegram Channels

20 July 2020

Report front cover

Messaging platforms such as Telegram are key channels for the dissemination of misinformation and junk news. So far there are very few large-scale studies of how news and political content circulates on these platforms. We use a large open access dataset to analyze which English-language news sources are prevalent on public Telegram channels, the scale of their audience and how information spreads on the platform. Our key results are:

  • Junk news sources received a third of all the views on Telegram for the most prominent twelve news sources we examined. Mainstream news sources receive a lot of attention, but two of the junk news sources received more views on Telegram than some well-known mainstream news outlets, including the Guardian or Daily Mail.
  • There is a fairly large audience for junk news sources, but articles from these sources rarely circulated widely outside of channels dedicated to these sources.
  • The audiences of junk news channels are on average significantly more engaged than the audiences of mainstream news channels. However, with a relatively small user base and no algorithmic timeline, these channels struggle to build a larger audience on Telegram.

Read the full memo here.

Read the data supplement here.

Aleksi Knuutila, Aliaksandr Herasimenka, Jonathan Bright, Rasmus Nielsen & Philip N. Howard. “Junk News Distribution on Telegram: The Visibility of English-language News Sources on Public Telegram Channels.” Data Memo 2020.5. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda. comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk

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