Even with increased awareness, the amount of false and misleading data online grows.
According to a new survey, 62% of survey respondents say that they see disinformation weekly.
The survey, conducted by Poynter Institute for Media Studies, asked 8,500 individuals from eight different countries how much disinformation they think they see online.
Survey respondents were categorized into five groups: Gen Z (18 to 25 years old), Millennials (26 to 41 years old), Gen X (42 to 57 years old), Boomers (58 to 67 years old), and the Silent generation (more than 68 years old).
Some revealing findings…
- Of the U.S. respondents, 47% think they see false information daily. Only 36% of respondents in the U.S. feel somewhat confident in their ability to identify false information.
- Between 30% and 40% of respondents are concerned about the effect disinformation has on education, health, and trust in government.
- Of Gen Z respondents, 51% said they verify information with a search engine. Some 49% of Millenials and 45% of Gen X use search engines while only 39% of Boomers and 29% of the Silent generation do the same.
- Gen Z and Millenials are more likely to use advanced techniques to verify information, such as reverse image searching. About 26% of Gen Z respondents use the reverse image search compared to 9% of the Silent generation.
- When asked if it was important for conclusions to be supported by facts, 68% of Gen Z said yes, while 70% of the older generations responded affirmatively.
Why it’s news
Disinformation, or “fake news,” has been a hot topic in the U.S. media for the last several years. And because of its prevalence, it’s become a way for opponents of real news to label news they disagree with as disinformation as well.
Disinformation created great strife during the last two presidential elections, as made-up reports about candidates and topics disseminated from many social media outlets.
In one extreme example known as “Pizzagate,” a man who believed a local pizza restaurant was linked to a sex-trafficking ring, brought firearms to the restaurant to conduct an “investigation.” The man was led to believe the restaurant was the headquarters of a child sex trafficking ring thanks to disinformation circulating online.
Of course, there is no easy solution. The occasional flow of disinformation among a vibrant and uncensored national conversation is a byproduct of a society that so values free speech. Even worse than disinformation, scholars argue, would be trying to decide and monitor what is true and not true.