Seniors more likely to share fake news stories: study
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 2:28PM EST
People over the age of 65 were more likely to share false news stories during the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a new study.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at New York University and Empire State University, was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
It involved using an app to track links being shared on Facebook by 1,300 willing participants and comparing them to a list of websites known for peddling false information masquerading as news.
Joshua Tucker, a professor of politics at New York University, said the study found that the sharing of fake news was “relatively rare” during the presidential campaign, with 91.5 per cent of accounts studied sharing no articles from “fake news” sites whatsoever.
Researchers did find a significant difference in “fake news” sharing when it came to age. Eleven per cent of people over the age of 65 who took part in the study shared at least one such story, compared to three per cent of people aged 18 to 29.
Gender, income and education level did not seem to affect how likely any given person was to share “fake news” stories.
Political views did make a difference, with 18 per cent of self-identified Republicans and four per cent of self-identified Democrats posting “fake news” articles to their Facebook pages, but the researchers cautioned that this could be because most “fake news” generated during the campaign was pro-Republican or anti-Democrat, and not because of any inherent differences in ideology.
The researchers say their findings suggest that teaching digital media literacy in schools may not be enough to overcome the rise of “fake news,” because the people most likely to share such stories have long left the education system.