Partisan media, untrustworthy news sites, and political misperceptions

Brian E. Weeks, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, CJ Calabrese, Andreu Casas Salleras, Magdalena Wojcieszak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the potential role both untrustworthy and partisan websites play in misinforming audiences by testing whether actual exposure to these sites is associated with political misperceptions. Using a sample of American adult social media users, we match data from individuals’ Internet browser histories with a survey measuring the accuracy of political beliefs. We find that visits to partisan websites are at times related to misperceptions consistent with the political bias of the site. However, we do not find strong evidence that untrustworthy websites consistently relate to false beliefs. There is also little evidence that visits to less partisan, centrist news sites are associated with more accurate political beliefs about these issues, suggesting that exposure to politically neutral news is not necessarily the antidote to misinformation. Results suggest that focusing on partisan news sites—rather than untrustworthy sites—may be fruitful to understanding how media contribute to political misperceptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2644-2662
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • partisan media
  • media effects
  • digital trace data
  • fake news
  • untrustworthy news sites
  • political misperceptions

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