Fake News Study Findings Show The Need For A Different Approach

Fake News Study Findings Show The Need For A Different Approach

Getty Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right in the West: All arguably the products of fake news. And, according to a new study, older people are more likely to share links to dubious sites online. There were also demographic differences in those who shared the stories from fake news domains, researchers from NYU and Princeton found: 18% of Republican users shared at least one link to a fake news site, compared to less than 4% of Democrats. Of course, over 65s have only known the web very recently and in fact, many choose to stay away from social media which does limit the study’s scope. However, the study supported the digital divide in a striking finding: over 65s shared more than twice as many fake news articles than even those in the second-oldest age group. According to the authors: “As the largest generation in America enters retirement at a time of sweeping demographic and technological change, it is possible that an entire cohort of Americans, now in their 60s and beyond, lacks the level of digital media literacy necessary to reliably determine the trustworthiness of news encountered online.” The authors also cite the general effect of ageing on memory, saying: “Memory deteriorates with age in a way that particularly undermines resistance to ‘illusions of truth’.” Perhaps this is unfair. Solving the fake news problem Fake news has been around since the dawn of time, but the internet and indeed the growth of social media has compounded the issue further. It is with this in mind that many governments around the world have implemented programs to try and debunk fake news. Social media sites, often criticized for being at the heart of the problem, also have their own initiatives to try and tackle fake news. In addition, websites such as Snopes.com can be used by savvy individuals of any age to ensure the facts they are sharing are correct.

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Fake news has been around since the dawn of time: Image shows wooden cubes with words fake news and newspapers on laptop.

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Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right in the West: All arguably the products of fake news. And, according to a new study, older people are more likely to share links to dubious sites online.

Published in the journal Science, the research covering the Facebook history of 1,750 adults found that over 65s were seven times more likely to share fake news articles than those aged between 18 and 29.

There were also demographic differences in those who shared the stories from fake news domains, researchers from NYU and Princeton found: 18% of Republican users shared at least one link to a fake news site, compared to less than 4% of Democrats.

Interpreting the study

So, what do the findings tell us? The study is US-only but more broadly, it still shows the scale of the digital divide. Of course, over 65s have only known the web very recently and in fact, many choose to stay away from social media which does limit the study’s scope.

However, the study supported the digital divide in a striking finding: over 65s shared more than twice as many fake news articles than even those in…

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