Are older Conservative and No-supporting Scots more likely to share Tory fake news?


I’m going to bend my own rules about research comparisons here, so any hypotheses raised must be pretty conditional.

First, here’s a US study:

‘People over the age of 65 who self-identify as Republicans are most likely to share fake news on social media, according to a study. Researchers from New York University and Princeton University analysed shared links to so-called “fake news” sites on Facebook during the 2016 US presidential election campaign. The results revealed that most of the sharers were self-identified conservatives over 65, who were seven-times more likely to share the content than people aged 18 to 29. The study also found that the vast majority of social media users did not actually engage in the fake news content.’

Are Scots, as a population, too different to suggest our more mature Conservative voters and No-supporters, might be prone in a similar way to share fake news on social media? Globally, I’d argue that Scots are relatively close to US whites. Clearly, we’d need to replicate the study here to be sure.

However, if Scottish Conservative politicians were more prone to disseminating fake news in the first place might that make it, statistically, more probable that it would be shared? As it turns out, they are. The Ferret fact-checking service found them much more likely to be telling lies in their communications:


Further, there is evidence that David Mundell’s Scottish Office had been directly targeting potential voter groups including the older voter:

The Ferret obtained details of the paid marketing activities on Facebook undertaken by the Scotland Office. It shows how Facebook messages from the department were targeted at specific groups of people in Scotland. The UK Government department aimed one advertising campaign solely at small business owners in the Dumfriesshire constituency of Scotland Office Minister, David Mundell. Academic Dr Mark Shephard said the data showed that the Scotland Office had targeted “sympathetic groups” while campaign group Unlock Democracy said the Scotland Office could be using taxpayer funds to “manipulate potential voters for party political purposes.”

Finally, it’s worth noting the clear evidence of older voters tending disproportionally to vote Conservative and/or No:



So, are older Conservative and No-supporting Scots more likely to share Tory fake news? There’s enough here to suggest follow-up research should be undertaken. Any takers?



10 thoughts on “Are older Conservative and No-supporting Scots more likely to share Tory fake news?

  1. Dunphail January 10, 2019 / 9:48 am

    From personal experience the only people I know on FB who share Express. Mail and Telegraph posts accompanied by the odd Britain First dross are those who I either know or strongly suspect to have voted NO/Tory.


  2. Alasdair Macdonald January 10, 2019 / 10:15 am

    Being a member of the particular age group, I have many acquaintances in that age group, too, and undoubtedly many have ‘conservative’ and ‘Conservative’ tendencies (including some who were youthful ‘radicals’). The point is not that they think it is ‘FAKE’ news, they actually believe it to be true and feel the need to pass it on, because they fear that change will affect them adversely.

    On the other hand, while there are increasing numbers of older people in the population, many are in good physical and mental health and remain well-informed. May retain fairly open minds about things and, as is often forgotten, there are significant numbers of pro-independence old codgers. Mea culpa and the co-owner of all my worldly good has permitted me to indicate that ‘shea culpa’, too.


  3. Alan Gordon January 10, 2019 / 11:54 pm

    To indicate my age group;
    Outwith the crisp blue shirt and sensible sleeveless cardy, the old guy in the image could be me. If my memory was better I could say with more certainty that I didn’t pose in that picture. Put him in a string vest showing chapped nipples and I’d be wondering where I put that smart computer.

    Friends and colleagues around me, similar age, have similar outlook to me, left of politics and independence supporting. Birds of a feather? We enjoy the mutual back slapping club?

    My mother however can sometimes leave Thatcher and Pol Pot out to the left of her. The outstanding thing that irks me about her political utterances is that I have to read the Daily Mail or Express, to find the offending “fact” then try to offer some balance. She was/is a very smart person. Is it laziness, the lure of the tabloids and endless soaps on telly that can take partial blame for a lack of independent, analytical thinking, in a great many people?

    Doesn’t help much towards research.


    • johnrobertson834 January 11, 2019 / 6:49 am

      Thanks Alan.

      A case study of one is still research as long as it doesn’t pretend to be a survey likeTheresa May’s recent example to justify her actions did..


  4. Graham Rae January 11, 2019 / 3:36 pm

    ‘Globally, I’d argue that Scots are relatively close to US whites.’ Ever lived in America? I have. The Scots are very, VERY different mentally and emotionally than the Americans, trust me. Completely different culture although, tragically, we are becoming more and more like them every year, with their cultural colonisation of this side of the pond through social media and terrible television programmes and cinema.


  5. Graham Rae January 11, 2019 / 4:13 pm

    The writer here meant Scottish white people are close to American white people. Which is completely wrong, to me at least; their entire way of thinking and living is totally different from top to bottom, start to finish. This Caucasian-alignment argument also does not take into account non-white Scottish people. Plus you have Republican, Democrat, and non-party-aligned white Americans. All think differently. Saying Scots are ‘relatively close’ to a non-homogenous group simply because of skin colour is a meaningless statement. It’s a no-go area all round.


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