Pew study shows Americans take fake news problem seriously

NLP Updates

A survey released by the Pew Research Center today shows that fabricated news stories are causing members of the public to be confused about basic facts.

About two in three U.S. adults say that fake news has caused “a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current events,” while roughly another quarter say it causes them “some” confusion.

Despite this confusion, 84 percent of those surveyed reported that they felt a degree of confidence in their ability to spot fake news when they saw it.

“What’s encouraging about these findings is the fact that so many Americans are aware that fake news is a serious problem,” said Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president for educational programs.

“But given what we also know about the power of fake news, it seems clear that this is something people need to continue to pay close attention to, no matter how confident they might be in their ability to catch it.”

We have been working to address misinformation — including viral rumors, hoaxes, propaganda and other forms of fake information — in classrooms for years. Our Checkology™ virtual classroom offers lessons to help students think critically about what they’re reading online, including a unit on “immunizing” themselves from viral rumors. It provides a “Check Tool” to help students develop news-literate habits of mind.

We are also tackling the problem of fake news head on. We have created a tip sheet for students called “Ten Questions for Fake News Detection,” and we’re working on a guide for the general public. “Fake News: A Guide — Tools, Tips and Resources to Combat Misinformation Online” will be available to the public in coming days.

We recognize that many outlets, too, are working to fix the problem. Facebook’s announcement today of plans to work with fact-checking groups to tackle fake news is a step in the right direction.

But we firmly believe that news literacy education is the best long-term solution to the problem.

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