According to a new survey by Pew Research Center, most Americans suspect that made-up news is having an impact. About two-in-three U.S. adults (64%) say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events. This sense is shared widely across incomes, education levels, partisan affiliations and most other demographic characteristics. These results come from a survey of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted from Dec. 1 to 4, 2016.
If the spread of fake news is a problem, who bears responsibility for addressing it? In the month since the presidential election, social networking sites and search engines have taken steps to address the issue. And there have been calls for the government and the public itself to take action as well.
Americans collectively assign a fairly high and roughly equal amount of responsibility to all three of these groups. Fully 45% say government, politicians and elected officials have a great deal of responsibility, roughly equal to the proportion who say a great deal of responsibility lies with members of the public (43%) and with social networking sites and search engines (42%).
While each of these three groups was seen as responsible by about an equal share of the public, it is not the case that every American thinks each bears a great deal of responsibility. In fact, only 15% of U.S. adults say this of all three groups, while 58% named one (31%) or two (27%) of the three groups.
Age is the only area where clear demographic differences emerge. Americans ages 50 and older are more likely to place a great deal of responsibility on the government (53%) than those ages 18 to 49 (38%). There are no demographic differences for how much responsibility the public or social networking sites and search engines owe.
There is also a partisan difference on how much responsibility the government has to prevent the spread of fake news. While about half of both Republicans (48%) and Democrats (49%) say the government has a great deal of responsibility, only about four-in-ten independents (38%) say so.
There are no partisan differences in terms of the responsibility assigned to the two other groups, however.
Those who say they often see made-up political news online are more likely to say each of the three groups has a great deal of responsibility. About half (53%) place a great deal of responsibility on politicians (compared with 41% who see fake political news online less often), on social networking sites and search engines (53% vs. 37%) and on the public (51% vs. 39%). Read the rest at PewResearch.