A new survey from the Pew Research Center has found that two-thirds of U.S. adults say fake news stories are causing “a great deal of confusion” about the basic facts of current events.
Fake political stories have drawn outsized attention recently because of the possibility that they influenced public perceptions and could have swayed the U.S. presidential election. Separately on Thursday, Facebook announced that it’s taking new measures to curb the spread of fake news on its social network.
Here are some key findings from the survey :
– Nearly a third of respondents in the Pew survey said they “often” see made-up political news stories online. Less than a half said they were “very confident” that they could spot fabricated news. Another 45 percent was “somewhat” confident.
– People are definitely sharing fake news stories online, and some do it knowingly. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they have shared a made-up story. Fourteen percent shared a story they knew was fake, while 16 percent realized a story was fake after sharing it. Since the survey relied on self-reporting, it’s unclear how many people shared fake news stories they never realized were fake.
– Forty-five percent said the government and politicians have a “great deal” of responsibility for preventing made-up stories from getting attention. About the same portion, 43 percent, said the public bears this responsibility, while 42 percent said social networking sites and search engines do.
– Republicans and Democrats were equally likely to say that fake news stories leave Americans “deeply confused.” A higher income meant respondents were more likely to say fake news is creating confusion, but other factors such as race, gender and education level had no real effect.
The Pew survey was conducted Dec. 1-4 among 1,002 U.S. adults