Maybe Readers Have Too Much Trust?

Well, this is interesting.

With politicians and journalists locked in bitter tweet-to-tweet combat, fake news has become entirely too real. Yet results from a new survey show a disturbing trend.

“When asked how they keep up with current events, an equal number of Americans, 47%, cited television and the internet while 9% of Americans said they didn’t follow the news at all,” writes Melina Druga in Talking New Media, citing facts from ReportLinker.

While sources varied widely – television news was most popular with the 55+ crowd, more seniors read newspapers than any other group, and Millennials relied primarily on the Internet – 88% of all of us check in with our sources at least once a day.

So we are going to our news sources to stay informed…sort of.

“Facebook has been accused of having the most fake news stories, something the network denies,” Druga reports.  “The criticism stems from the fact Facebook customizes what news a user sees based on personal preference and an algorithm.

“In a Washington Post experiment, the newspaper decided to test Facebook’s algorithm.  It found that legitimate news was slow to trend while fake news, including news from a website with “fake news” in its domain, trended quickly.”

And Facebook, it should be noted, was the first choice for news for 32% of Americans.

Fake news aside, 58% of respondents say the sites they go to for info are “undoubtedly reliable.” We are deluding ourselves. What’s fascinating to note is that American’s distrust of news media is at an all-time low…except when it comes to the outlets they choose to read and believe.

“A survey conducted by Ipsos and Buzzfeed News, found that American adults believe fake news 75% of the time,” Druga writes, noting a disturbing lack of verification on the reader’s part when deciding if something is “real” or not.

While the industry calls on platforms to do a better job policing their own, it’s inherent on all of us to validate our sources. The wild, knee-jerk sharing of any bit of news that supports our opinion or shoots down another’s is causing a crisis in journalism unlike any we’ve seen.

Before you believe what you read, and before your share, just pause and ask yourself…can I verify this? Can I trust the source? Do I understand what I’m reading and the implications of what it says? As journalists share the same coveted space with flat-out marketers, knowing who’s paying the bills is more important than ever.