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Social media users are more likely to believe in misinformation: study

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A large percentage of Americans received their news primarily from social media platforms in 2020, but these people were more likely to see and believe misinformation, according to a survey

Americans who rely on social media as their main source of news are more likely to believe false or unproven stories about important topics like politics and COVID-19, a poll on Monday found.

The Pew Research Center report found that people who used social platforms for news were less informed about important public affairs topics and were more susceptible to rumors of faith and hoax.

The report goes hand in hand with social media platforms becoming a growing news source amid the struggles of traditional media in the digital age.

The Pew report found that about 18 percent of respondents got most of their political and election news through social media.

However, these people were less likely to answer fact-based questions about politics and current events than those who relied on print, broadcast, or news apps.

Social media message consumers were more aware of specific false or unproven stories about the coronavirus and said they saw more misinformation about the pandemic, such as claims that vitamin C could prevent infection, the survey found.

In political news, social media users were less informed about facts like the role of state electoral college votes that ultimately determine who wins the White House or the unemployment rate.

The report comes from a series of interviews with approximately 9,000 US adults from November 2019 to December 2020.

A majority in the survey said they distrust social media, with Facebook being the least trusted of the platforms.

Among those who used traditional media, the researchers also found that about a quarter of Americans on the political left and right consistently turned to “partisan” news sites and reiterated their views.

Pew found that around three in ten Republicans rely on former President Donald Trump as a major source of news about the elections and the coronavirus.

These Republicans considered the COVID-19 pandemic to be rather exaggerated and more likely to see electoral fraud as a significant threat to electoral integrity.

As Facebook increases its stake in the news, regional and senior Australians will be hardest hit

© 2021 AFP

Quote: Social media users are more likely to believe in misinformation: Study (2021, February 22), accessed on July 20, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-social-media-users-misinformation.html

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