If you knew this article was bogus, would still blast it out to your Facebook friends? Apparently, 14% of you would. That’s the percentage of people who admitted in a new Pew Research survey that they have shared a story they knew at the time to be false. Among the reasons people listed for why they knowingly shared fake news, some said they did it for amusement value, others said they wanted to “call out” the story as fake, and some did it for another reason entirely, Pew reports.
The revelation puts an even stranger dimension on the fake-news phenomenon that has preoccupied the American public since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory last month. Hillary Clinton has called the problem an “epidemic” and Facebook just today announced a new feature in which it will slap warning labels on news stories determined to be false by an outside coalition of fact-checkers.
But how much good can it do if a segment of social media users is still fueling algorithms despite knowing things to be false? Fortunately, 14% is not a terribly huge number (although, let’s be honest, it’s bigger than it should be), but it’s only part of the problem. The Pew survey also revealed that fake news leaves 64% of Americans “confused about basic facts.” I have to admit, I’m one of those people right now.
[Source photo: Flickr user Salim Fadhley]