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Survey Finds That Many Americans Are Concerned About Influence of Fake News

December 19, 2016

The 2016 election has raised widespread concerns about fake news and its potential impact on politics and the American people, according to the Pew Research Center. In a new survey, 64 percent of U.S. adults say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion — a perception shared across incomes, education levels, party affiliations and other demographic factors.

But 39 percent of those surveyed still feel very confident they can recognize fabricated news when they see it, and another 45 percent feel somewhat confident. Thirty-two percent say they often encounter made-up political news online. Twenty-three percent admit to sharing fake news themselves — with roughly equal portions doing so knowingly, versus realizing it later.

On the question of who’s responsible for preventing the spread of spurious news, 45 percent point to government, politicians and elected officials. Forty-three percent say it’s up to the public, and 42 percent believe that social-networking sites and search engines should stop the flow of phony news.

Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to say that fake news stories leave Americans deeply confused about current events. The feeling is mostly consistent across education, race, gender and age, but with some difference by income. Fifty-eight percent of those who earn less than $30,000 a year say fake news causes a great deal of confusion, compared to 65 percent of people earning between $30,000 and $75,000, and 73 percent of those making $75,000 or more. — Greg Beaubien

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