March 31, 2017
Despite the strong political divide among Americans right now, there is one topic that unites most people in this country: a disdain for “fake news.”
A recent survey from Weber Shandwick titled “A Real Plague: Fake News” found that 82 percent of Americans are concerned about fake news, with nearly half (47 percent) reporting that they’re “very” concerned.
This unease spans all demographics and political ideologies, too. Regardless of whether someone identifies as conservative (85 percent) or liberal (84 percent), or whether they live in a city (83 percent) or rural area (77 percent), they seem to care about the proliferation of fake news. Even 58 percent of Americans who didn’t watch the election closely say they’re unsettled.
Despite these concerns, though, few people are willing to place the blame on themselves — only 9 percent of the individuals surveyed admit they’ve shared fake news stories online before, and most respondents identify the media, social media, attention seekers and political entities (such as political parties and politicians) as the main culprits in the proliferation of untrustworthy reporting.
However, this lack of personal accountability may be due to the fact that most Americans struggle with spotting fake news in the first place. While a majority (70 percent) of survey respondents say they’ve read a fake news story before, an even stronger majority (74 percent) also believe it’s difficult to discern what’s factual and what’s not. — Dean Essner