This has not been the only eyebrow-raising finding of a cross-reference study of articles shared during the 2016 US presidential election campaign done by researchers from New York University and Princeton University.
Andrew Guess (Department of Politics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University), Jonathan Nagler and Joshua Tucker (Wilf Family Department of Politics and Social Media and Political Participation Lab, New York University) cross-referenced the results of a survey of a representative sample of the American population (N=1,191) with their activity on Facebook. Here are some of the most interesting findings:
- Fake news is not attractive content to be shared. Although the majority of respondents generally shared links to various articles (61.3% of respondents shared at least 100 links on their FB walls in 2016), the study found that links to fake news pages did not actually enjoy popularity (91.5% of respondents shared no stories from fake news domains).
- Seniors are more likely to share misinformation. The authors of the study focused on the 8.5% of respondents who were sharing fake news content and calculated an average number of links for specific respondent groups. Having considered their age, the highest number of links per one respondent was among the 65+ age group. On average, 0.75 such stories shared by one person in the age group.
- The more conservative views, the higher the fake news-dissemination activity. In the case of respondents who identified their views as conservative or very conservative, the average was 0.75 and 1, respectively, which was significantly higher than in the case of people declaring other views.
As the authors of the report point out, the previous analyses of the fake news phenomenon failed to take into account older users. The above findings show that this group should not be omitted. With the growing share of seniors active on social media, this group may have an increasing role in disseminating misinformation online.
Fake news: where it comes from, how it spreads and in what form – download our report
This study suggests we should post an important question of whether there is a need to educate particularly vulnerable groups—older representatives of media audiences—in order to improve the online literacy competencies.
Source (lic. CC BY-SA 4.0):
Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook; Andrew Guess, Jonathan Nagler, Joshua Tucker; Science Advances 09 Jan 2019: Vol. 5; http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau4586