Many Americans believe “made-up news and information” — commonly called “fake news” — is seriously harming the nation and should be stopped, reports the non-partisan Pew Research Center.
“Indeed,” says a newly released Pew report, “more Americans view made-up news as a very big problem for the country than … terrorism, illegal immigration, racism and sexism.”
It adds that “nearly seven-in-ten (68%) … say made-up news and information greatly impacts Americans’ confidence in government institutions, and roughly half (54%) say it is having a major impact on our confidence in each other.”
The report is based on a Pew survey of more than 6,000 U.S. adults earlier this year.
“Of course, some point the finger primarily at President Trump while others blame irresponsible news outlets,” says CNN. “But the study shows a widespread awareness of what’s sometimes called the War on Truth.”
Republicans “are more likely to blame journalists” for fake news, the Pew report says, while most of those surveyed put the blame mainly on political leaders and activists.
Yet more than half of those surveyed think journalists “have the greatest responsibility to reduce it.”
Nearly 90% of those responding to the survey say they “often” or “sometimes” encounter made-up news and information.
“Americans have also changed their news and technology habits,” the report says.
“Almost eight-in-ten (78%) say they have checked the facts in news stories themselves. Roughly six-in-ten (63%) have stopped getting news from a particular outlet, about half (52%) have changed the way they use social media and roughly four-in-ten (43%) have lessened their overall news intake.”
The issue has also altered interactions between individual Americans, with half of those surveyed saying they’ve avoided talking with certain individuals “because they thought that person would bring made-up news into the conversation.”
Among those surveyed who get some or all of their news via social media, half have stopped following sources they believe post made-up news.
“Just as Republicans express greater skepticism than Democrats about news coverage and the news media more generally, they see made-up news as a bigger problem and place far more blame on journalists,” the report says.
Large majorities — upwards of 80% — of all those surveyed favor restrictions on “fully made-up news as well as altered videos and images.”
Pew says another key finding of the survey is that Americans feel “political divides in the country are the greatest obstacle to addressing the problem.”