We're highly susceptible to fake news
Bottom Line: I've long said that the most pervasive form of media bias is omition. That's doubtless still the case but in this era of "fake news" with more media outlets reporting more information than ever before – often based on conjecture, opinion or lacking context – we're also highly susceptible to falling for fake news.
The Pew Research Center recently studied adults on their ability to identify accurate and false statements, opinion vs facts, etc. The results were revealing – especially when they studied political reporting. The folks at Pew researched people based on the way they categorized themselves. Here were the initial buckets:
High political awareness
Low political awareness
Not Digitally savvy
Here's the first important point. Not one group of people could correctly identify factual from un-factual or opinion information a majority of the time. Here's how each group fared...
Percentage of the time news reporting was correctly identified:
Digitally savvy: 44%
Highly politically aware: 36%
Not digitally savvy: 21%
Not politically aware 17%
So, there it is... Americans are only 17%-44% successful in identifying fact from opinion or fiction. Yikes. No wonder it's so hard to cut through the noise with real information when attempting to reach the masses. It is true that those who're politically aware and digitally savvy are the most discerning but that's not saying much when they're able to sort through the BS less than half the time. While we might not be great at sorting through fact and fiction in news reporting we are highly skeptical. Only 39% say they have trust in national news organizations.
If you're frustrated frequently by those around you who seem to easily fall for "fake news" or operate on assumptions this is why but then again – it might be important to look in the mirror before indicting others and ensure that you're not operating on a series of assumptions either. As I like to say. There are two sides to stories but just one side to facts. We're living in a society that can't generally figure out the difference between the two.