Two new polls are trying to shed light on how Americans view and respond to fake news. Not surprisingly, the results of both reveal how incredibly far this problem is from being solved.
Ipsos Public Affairs conducted a survey of 3,015 U.S. adults for BuzzFeed News. Some of the findings suggest that fake news is more of a problem on the right than it is on the left:
The survey found that those who identify as Republican are more likely to view fake election news stories as very or somewhat accurate. Roughly 84% of the time, Republicans rated fake news headlines as accurate (among those they recognized), compared to a rate of 71% among Democrats. The survey also found that Trump voters are more likely to rate familiar fake news headlines as accurate than Clinton voters…
However, it’s notable that a majority of Clinton voters still believed the fake news stories to be very or somewhat accurate.
On average, Clinton voters judged 58% of familiar fake news headlines as accurate, versus 86% for Trump voters. (These percentages are based on 434 judgments by Clinton voters and 634 judgments by Trump voters.)
A fake story about the pope endorsing Trump was seen as accurate by 46% of Clinton voters compared to 75% of Trump voters. The hoax about an FBI agent connected to a Clinton investigation being found dead was seen as accurate by 52% of Clinton voters and 85% of Trump voters.
The other poll, from Morning Consult, unwittingly reveals how difficult it can be to even find the right language to ask readers about fake news.
Morning Consult asked 1,605 respondents how much they trust, and how credible they find, each of the following outlets: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Huffington Post, Breitbart, InfoWars, and The Onion. But The Onion isn’t a “fake news” site — it’s satire that clearly bills itself as such, even if people sometimes get confused. (Google it, and its tagline is “A farcical newspaper featuring world, national and community news.”) In that way, it’s not comparable to either Breitbart or InfoWars, neither of which is satire, but both of which have run stories that are verifiably false.
Also from Morning Consult’s poll:
The survey found that 67 percent of respondents said search engines like Google are responsible for ensuring people are not exposed to fake news. Sixty-six percent said the same about the person reading the news. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter had 63 percent of people say they should act as gatekeepers, while 56 percent said the government has that responsibility.
It’s worth noting, by the way, that, in answer to the question of “how responsible” the government is for ensuring people are not exposed to fake news, nearly a third of respondents said it is “very responsible” for this.
The BuzzFeed/Ipsos poll is here, with all of the poll data here; the Morning Consult poll is here, with all of the poll data here.