More Than Half of Americans Still Question Accuracy of News Content on Social Media

Pew Research Center survey finds that three-quarters of Republicans are concerned about “fake news” on their social feeds

Last Updated: September 17, 2018 @ 12:19 PM

While over two-thirds of American adults say they at least occasionally get news on social media, 57 percent say they are concerned that the information they see is inaccurate, according to new data released Monday by The Pew Research Center.

Pew’s survey found that even among those who say they prefer to get their news from sites like Facebook and YouTube, 42 percent said that they expect the news they see to largely be inaccurate.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats and independents to be concerned about the accuracy of the news they see on social media. Among social media news consumers, about three-quarters of Republicans were concerned with inaccuracy (72 percent), compared with 46 percent of Democrats and about half of independents (52 percent).

The concern over the credibility of news distributed on social platforms comes despite efforts from Facebook and YouTube to increase trust in the news content generated on their sites.

In June, Facebook announced it would be investing an undisclosed amount of money into funding original news shows from both legacy news networks like ABC and Fox, as well as digital media companies such as Mic. YouTube was also vocal about its efforts to curb the spread of so-called “fake news.”

In July, the Google-owned company announced it would be committing $25 million to support select news organizations in building sustainable video operations on its platform. However, these efforts have not been enough to wash out the bad taste left in consumers’ mouths by the 2016 Presidential Election — a time when thousands of political ads and posts from a Russian company linked to the Kremlin flooded social media sites like Facebook.

Despite concerns of credibility, those surveyed by Pew named convenience as the most commonly named positive thing about getting news via social media: Twenty-one percent said convenience is what they liked most, with responses such as “It’s very accessible,” “It’s available at the touch of a button” and “I don’t have to go looking for it.”

In addition, 36 percent of respondents said getting their news from social media has helped them better understand current events, while nearly half (48 percent) said it doesn’t have much of an effect on their understanding. Another 15 percent said that news on social media has made them more confused about current events.

The survey found that age plays a big factor in the way people view the role of social media. Younger generations are more likely to say it has impacted their learning for the better. About half of social media news consumers ages 18 to 29 (48 percent) say news on social media makes them better informed, compared with 37 percent of those 30 to 49, 28 percent of those 50 to 64, and 27 percent of those 65 and older.

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