When online science news isn’t really about science
Popular science Facebook pages often post about promotions or ads, Pew study finds
“I F*cking Love Science” is the most followed science-related Facebook-native page with 25.6 million followers
With 25.6 million followers, “I F*cking Love Science” (IFLS) is the most followed science-related Facebook-native page.
Science personalities like Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking also have millions of followers. A recent study from the Pew Research Centre for Internet and Technology looked at the kinds of posts people are seeing on these pages and found that rather than news on scientific discoveries, more posts were ads for events, promotions for programmes, or practical tips, ie “news you can use”.
Analysing over 130,000 posts from the top 30 science-related Facebook pages, Pew found that new scientific discoveries were covered in only 29 per cent of these posts, while 16 per cent of posts were promotions or advertisements.
Interestingly, although the majority of IFLS posts were classified as new discovery-related they may not always be fact-checked, which is problematic.
One recent post claimed elephants think humans are “cute” in the same way humans perceive cuddly animals but a quick Google showed that this was a repost from an old Tumblr blog that has spread around the web but has been verified as unproven by Snopes. com.