Many liberals in the mainstream media dismiss the concept of “fake news” as just a term conservatives use when they hear information they don’t like or don’t agree with. However, a new Pew Research Center survey demonstrated that people across the country find that situation to be much more common and more serious than is otherwise reported.
Released Wednesday, Pew researchers Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, Sophia Fedeli, Galen Stocking and Mason Walker stated that many Americans “say the creation and spread of made-up news and information is causing significant harm to the nation and needs to be stopped.”
In an article about the survey, Axios's Sara Fischer noted that most people in the country view fake news “as a bigger problem than other critical issues, including terrorism, illegal immigration, climate change and racism.”
All told, more than half of the 6,127 people polled between Feb. 19 and March 4 responded that fake news and incorrect information impacted their “confidence in government institutions,” political leaders and even other Americans.
In turn, that feeling led respondents to assert that they've changed how they consume news and taken further steps to check the accuracy of what they're reading.
Based on the results of Pew's poll, respondents replied that they saw the most fake news in politics and elections (73 percent) and then entertainment and celebrities (61 percent). Not surprisingly, 62 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents stated that fake news is a very big problem in America, compared with 40 percent of Democrats and left-leaning independents.
And in what's also likely to not be a total shocker to you, the readers of NewsBusters, is who Americans blame for that (click “expand”):
One of the starkest differences, though, is in assigning blame for creating made-up news and information. Republicans are nearly three times as likely as Democrats to say journalists create a lot of it (58% vs. 20%).
Republicans also place more blame on activist groups, with about three-quarters (73%) saying these groups create a lot, close to twice the rate of Democrats (38%). Political leaders and their staff, though, rank high for both sides of the aisle – half or more of each party say they create a lot. And while members of both parties say the news media bear the primary responsibility for fixing the situation, that feeling is considerably more pervasive among Republicans (69%) than Democrats (42%).
In one of the poll's more intriguing findings, there was this: “Of the 52% of Americans who say they have shared made-up news themselves, a vast majority of them said they didn’t know it was made up when they did so.”
A rather sad finding in the poll was how the spread of fake news has “affected how U.S. adults interact with each other” as over half of respondents to Pew that “they have avoided talking with someone” due to a fear they would cite fake news while a majority of social media users cut off interaction with those (individuals and news organizations) that they don't view as credible.
In terms of what Pew deemed someone's “political awarness,” it concluded that “highly politically aware Americans say they see more made-up news than do those who are less politically aware, and they feel it has a more negative impact on our democratic system.”
And not to be the bearer of bad news, but 56 percent believe that the issue of fake news “will get worse over the next five years” with a scant 10 percent thinking the opposite.