You think that you can spot fake news, but the truth is… you probably can’t.
About 50% of people polled said that they can spot fake news, but around 70% admitted that they’ve unknowingly shared fake news before.
Here’s why this is important.
Dangerous Inability To Identify Fake News
A study done by the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Centre for Information Integrity and the Internet (IN-cube) polled between 420 to 1610 Singapore residents above the age of 21 online.
This study sought to understand the Internet use of Singapore over time, and surveys were conducted in December 2020, July 2021 and December 2021.
Through the polls, they’ve discovered that there’s a mismatch between our confidence in spotting fake news, versus our ability to actually do it.
This is dangerous, because people may end up believing in fake information due to their misplaced confidence in spotting fake news.
The results of the study released on 28 January thus points to the need to educate the public on how to find credible information.
And this is exactly why you should follow Goody Feed, where everything we write is based on facts.
Why Do People Share Fake News?
The first reason is that fake news invoke strong feelings in us. For instance, we probably don’t feel much over the science of how vaccines work. But an article claiming that vaccines could cause long-term side effects? That’ll make you feel worried or angry, and all thoughts of fact-checking may fly out of your mind.
Another reason is our “better safe than sorry” attitude. After all, isn’t that why we join long queues even without knowing what you’re queuing for?
You don’t want to miss out on a good deal, just like how you don’t want your friends to miss out on such a critical piece of information.
The study showed that this reason was more prevalent amongst the baby-boomer generation, where they tend to forward fake news to warn their family and friends. They also send news that they think will interest the people around them, which might signal to a desire to maintain or improve social connections with others.
But not everyone who shares fake news doesn’t know that it’s fake news. 51 to 60% of people surveyed shared fake news, even when they know it is fake.
Sound ridiculous, but people do it precisely because it is ridiculous. They find the fake information funny, and think that their friends will also laugh at it. This is usually done by millennials (and probably Gen Z as well).
Pandemic Encouraged Greater Interest in News
Before the pandemic, studies by NTU showed that most people’s source of news was social media like Facebook and Whatsapp. 55.9% of people used Facebook as their first source of news, while 52.7% used Whatsapp.
Reading local TV news sites or local newspaper sites was lower, at 47.2% and 44.9% respectively.
However, in difficult times, people turn to the news.
This time round, they (thankfully) turn to legitimate news sources. The IN-Cube study found that people don’t use social media to get news as much now.
Facebook is used by 32 to 37% of surveyees to read news, while only 26 to 30% use WhatsApp for news. In a reversal of trends, this is lower than the 38 to 46% for newspaper sites, and 39 to 45% for TV sites.
However, we’ll have to wait and see if this increased consumption of news will become a habit ingrained in us, or if it’s just a pandemic-driven thing.
One day, when we no longer have to check on daily case rates and variant mutations, will people still keep reading the news? Only time will tell.
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Featured Image: Facebook (Nanyang Technological University)
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