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Fake news traffic sources in the U.S. 2017

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main traffic source for false information online is social media, which generates 42 percent of fake news traffic. The nature of social networks, most notably the ease of sharing content, allows fake news to spread at a rapid rate – an issue further exacerbated by the fact that many U.S. adults sometimes believe fake news to be real.

Fake news: an ongoing problem

The presence of fake news would be less of an issue if users were more aware of how to identify it and were aware of the risks of sharing such content. Many U.S. news consumers have shared fake news online, and worryingly, ten percent did so deliberately. Adults who are part of that ten percent are just a small portion of people in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, who are responsible for spreading false information. More than 30 percent of U.S. children and teenagers have shared a fake news story online, and over 50 percent of adults in selected countries worldwide have wrongly believed a fake news story.

The result of adults and young consumers alike not only believing fake news, but actively sharing it, is that small, illegitimate websites producing such content are able to grow more successful. Such websites have the potential to tarnish or seriously damage the reputation of any persons mentioned within a fake news article, promote events or policies which do not exist, and mislead readers about important topics they are trying to keep up with. A 2019 survey revealed that most adults believe that fake news and misinformation will get worse in the next five years, and the sad truth is that this will likely be the case unless news consumers grow more discerning about what they post and share online.

Distribution of traffic sources for fake news in the United States in 2017

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Release date

February 2017


United States

Survey time period

as of February 2017

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Statistics on "News in the U.S."

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