May 17, 2022

Research Article: “The Reach of Commercially Motivated Junk News on Facebook”

The following research article was published today by PLOS One.


The Reach of Commercially Motivated Junk News on Facebook


Peter Burger
Leiden University

Soeradj Kanhai
Leiden University

Alexander Pleijter
Leiden University

Suzan Verberne
Leiden University


PLoS ONE 14(8): e0220446
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220446


Commercially motivated junk news–i.e. money-driven, highly shareable clickbait with low journalistic production standards–constitutes a vast and largely unexplored news media ecosystem. Using publicly available Facebook data, we compared the reach of junk news on Facebook pages in the Netherlands to the reach of Dutch mainstream news on Facebook. During the period 2013–2017 the total number of user interactions with junk news significantly exceeded that with mainstream news. Over 5 Million of the 10 Million Dutch Facebook users have interacted with a junk news post at least once. Junk news Facebook pages also had a significantly stronger increase in the number of user interactions over time than mainstream news. Since the beginning of 2016 the average number of user interactions per junk news post has consistently exceeded the average number of user interactions per mainstream news post.

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Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.