Ask Canadians whether fake news has fooled them and millennials are most likely to confess they’ve been taken in by a false story or an alternative fact.
That’s clear from a survey conducted by Ipsos for the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).
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The survey showed that seven in 10 Canadians (72 per cent) trust traditional news media and that the trust has grown by seven points, year over year.
But fake news is still fooling people, as people aged 18 to 34 years old will most readily admit — and confidence in media that aren’t trusted as widely grows as you skew younger, according to Ipsos.
More than six in 10 millennial respondents (65 per cent) admitted to falling victim to fake news, which was lower than the number for Generation Xers (59 per cent) and Baby Boomers (50 per cent).
This infographic summarizes several findings from the Ipsos survey:
Despite this, millennials were also most confident in their abilities to distinguish between fake news and real.
The survey showed 25 per cent of them agreeing with the statement, “I have no idea how to distinguish between real news and fake news.”
That was lower than Gen Xers (29 per cent) and Baby Boomers (32 per cent).
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However, other research by Ipsos hasn’t shown much difference between the different age groups, CEO Darrell Bricker told Global News.
“We actually presented people with fake news stories and real news stories to see whether they were capable of determining which was which,” he said.
“There was really no discernible difference based on education, level of confidence, and no correlation to whether they were successful.”
When it comes to fake news, people could be overestimating their abilities to tell the difference, Bricker said.
“They may think they’re able to discern, but the testing showed there really wasn’t a discernible difference between older and younger respondents,” he added.
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The survey also showed that 60 per cent of millennial respondents trusted traditional media such as newspapers, television, and radio news.
That was less than the rate for all Canadians, and also markedly less than for members of Generation X (74 per cent) and Baby Boomers (79 per cent).
Across all respondents, social media was the least-trusted mode for consuming news, with 14 per cent saying they trust it — and the numbers for Facebook and Twitter were even lower.
Topping that list was broadcast TV news with 61 per cent, followed by print newspapers at 58 per cent, news radio at 54 per cent, news websites at 52 per cent, cable news at 51 per cent and talk radio and 42 per cent.
Trust in social media wasn’t high among any age demographic, but at 22 per cent, millennials were most likely to trust it, followed by Gen Xers (17 per cent) and Baby Boomers (five per cent).
By contrast, they showed the least trust of any age group in cable news, broadcast TV news, newspapers’ websites, print newspapers and news radio — though in every case, their trust was higher in these forms than in social media.
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Why the lack of trust for traditional media, compared with other demographics?
“I think because they live in a bigger world in which traditional media wasn’t as big a part of defining their agenda and their world as it was for older groups,” Bricker said.
“They just have more options, they see more things, they’re more global in their outlook.”
While the poll showed more millennials admitting to being fooled than other people, research has suggested that older demographics are more responsible for the spread of fake news where it’s consumed.
Research out of Princeton and New York University showed Facebook users over 65 and ultraconservatives sharing “nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.”
The research, published in Science Advances, showed that overall, an average of only one in 12 people had shared false information during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
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Those who did it, however, were generally older and more conservative.
Asked whether it’s likely that millennials could be taken in by fake news more, but that it’s also being spread more often than older demographics, Bricker said younger people are “more likely to go out and check if the stories were fake or not.”
He said they likely understand when they have been fooled, and that they’re “actually much more active in the media where fake news is more dominant.”
“It might be that the younger people are just more exposed to it,” Bricker said.
“The older folks just don’t know.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 3 to 6, 2019, on behalf the Radio Television Digital News Association. For this survey, a sample of 1,002 adults living in Canada was polled. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
- With files from The Associated Press