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Perceived sources of fake news in the U.S. 2017

The term ‘fake news’ is used in multiple different contexts, but officially refers simply to false information presented as legitimate news. Adults in the United States believe social media platforms and online news sites to be the most likely sources of fake news – 58 percent of respondents to a survey believed that Facebook was the most likely place in which they would encounter false news stories, and 49 percent said the same about Twitter.

A separate study revealed that 66 percent of U.S. adults believed that 76 percent or more of the news they saw on social media was biased. Social networks are generally not seen as credible or trustworthy news platforms – on a global level, social media was the least trusted source of general news and information.

Why does social media fuel or help to spread fake news?

Sadly, the main way in which fake news can be so quickly disseminated throughout not only one, but multiple social media platforms, is by users sharing such news with others (either knowingly or unknowingly). The ability to share content with friends and family is one of the key appeals of social networks, but the ease of doing so becomes somewhat sinister when it comes to the spread of false information.

Ten percent of U.S. adults admitted to knowingly sharing fake news or information online, 49 percent said that they shared such content and later found out it was inaccurate or made up, and 52 percent admitted to having done either of these things. This is a serious cause for concern. Sharing news in good faith and later discovering it was fake is one thing, but deliberately and knowingly passing such content on to others is another. Many social media users blame the networks themselves for the spread of fake news. Whilst social platforms do make attempts to regulate the content shared on their sites, the more users who actively take responsibility for the content they choose to share and hold themselves accountable, the greater the overall impact.

Most likely sources of fake news stories in the United States as of January 2017

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Release date

February 2017


United States

Survey time period

January 27, 2017

Number of respondents

1,007 respondents

Age group

18 years and older

Method of interview

Online survey

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Statistics on "TV news in the U.S."

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