RGU survey explores fake news and alternative facts

The terms ‘post-truth’, ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ have become commonly used in recent months, particularly in relation to national and international politics.

Sir Ian Wood Building with RGU signIn the run up to the local elections next month, a team from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) School of Creative and Cultural Business is carrying out a survey to determine if they are a feature of Scottish politics.

Professor Rita Marcella and Dr Graeme Baxter, specialists in Information Management, and MSc placement student Agnieszka Walicka, are conducting research to explore people’s opinions on the reliability of information presented as ‘facts’ by political figures in Scotland.

They are inviting anyone aged 16 or over to complete a short online survey with participants being asked to comment on five images containing various ‘facts and figures’ posted on social media by the major political parties in Scotland.

This independent, unfunded research builds upon the team’s previous studies of the ways in which political parties and politicians in Scotland use websites and social media to communicate with voters during election campaigns.

It will be complemented by interviews with Aberdeen citizens that will explore their perceptions of the credibility of ‘facts’ in more detail.

Dr Baxter said: “Much has been said about the part that ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ played in the Brexit campaign and the US presidential election. We’re interested in how citizens gauge the reliability of the so-called ‘facts’ that Scottish politicians and parties present on a daily basis, and how they might go about verifying or debunking these ‘facts’.”

The results will eventually form part of various academic journal articles and conference papers.

The survey can be accessed at All responses will be completely anonymous. The survey closes on Monday, 17th April.


Release by Kate Yuill
Communications Officer | Business, Management and Law
Press and Media Enquiries