Fake News Statistics - Featured Image
By Milos Djordjevic | October 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

27 Fake News Statistics and the Misinformation Effect They Cause

In today’s pluralistic democracy, every voice counts, and behind every vote, there’s an opinion. This opinion is mostly formed by the person who interprets the information that reaches them. So, what happens when this information is inaccurate or fake? How does one make a valid conclusion based on false premises? How does fake news form public opinion?

This is one of the biggest plights of today’s society, and its causes can be seen in many forms. Political occurrences and oscillations, mass hysteria, and global trends can all be created by fake news statistics. This is why it’s so vital that we delve deeper into the concept of false reporting and the misinformation effect it can cause.

Top Fake News Statistics and Trends (Editor’s Pick)

  • In 2019, 42% of adults in the US trusted the press less than they did the previous year.
  • 61% of millennials read political news on Facebook.
  • 44% of people on Facebook trust the fake news that aligns with their political beliefs.
  • 45% of adults in the UK believe that they encounter fake news online daily.
  • November 2016 was a major turning point for people’s interest in the term “fake news”.
  • 36% of the world population in 2019 lived in an area where the press is deemed as not free.
  • 27% of surveyed males believe that mainstream media are reporting fake news most of the time.
  • Republican voters in the US doubt mainstream media the most (44% of them).

Trust in Media Statistics in 2020

1. According to the 2019 survey, 42% of adults in the US trusted the press less than they did a year ago.

(Statista)

At this very moment, one of the most worrying factors when it comes to trust in mainstream media is not the overall trust. It’s the fact that the trust level has been continuously dropping for a while. This means that the lack of trust reaches a new peak every single year. For instance, 42% of all US adults trust mainstream media less than they did the previous year. Unfortunately, this doesn’t diminish the fake news influence on the general population.

2. In 2020, only 29% of adult Americans frequently trust news media.

(Statista)

When it comes to trusting various news sources, it’s important to mention that the region is a predominant factor. This is why the majority of countries at the very top of the list are European (Finland, Portugal, Netherlands). When it comes to the US, a study conducted in 2020 shows that only about 29% of adults trust news media most of the time. Moreover, they accuse mainstream media of spreading fake news facts.

3. November 2016 was a major turning point for people’s interest in the term “fake news.”

(JournoLink)

Based on the previous statistic, it’s hardly surprising that November 2016 (the period of previous US elections) was a major turning point in the Google interest in the keyword “fake news.” Due to the fact that one of the major candidates (a subsequent winner of the election) brought it up many times, it came to public attention with far greater efficiency. It also shed more light on the phenomenon of media impact on public opinion and the way it shapes major political events in the country.

4. 25% of readers believe that The New York Times is very accurate.

(Statista)

The information source is also quite important, and some names like The New York Times seem to be held in high regard. According to 2018 statistics, 25% of survey takers believe that The New York Times is very accurate. About 18% of them believe this journal is extremely accurate, with 21% more who believe it is somewhat accurate. Needless to say, this is one of the rare optimistic mainstream media statistics out there.

5. 57% of people read the news every day, and only 53% of them read the newspapers.

(Arlington Research)

Previously, we’ve talked about the number of millennials who get their news from traditional sources; however, when it comes to Gen X or Gen Z, things aren’t much different. All in all, 57% of people read the news every day, and as many as 53% rarely read it from newspapers.

6. 45% of adults in the UK believe that they encounter fake news online daily.

(JournoLink)

The worst part of this phenomenon is that this lack of trust isn’t endemic to the US. In the UK, about 45% of all adults firmly believe that they regularly encounter fake news. These are the data obtained through a Google Survey that was run between July 12 and 14, 2019. As the facts suggest, the numbers might have deteriorated drastically during the last year.

7. 40% of people in the UK share the story they find interesting.

(Arlington Research)

As many as 40% of people in the UK share the story they find interesting. The problem with this statistic lies in the word “interesting.” This is because the majority of these people won’t go to the effort of verifying the information in question. This can sometimes lead to a faster spread of fake statistics on the internet.

Trust in Mainstream Media by Region and Demographic 2020 Statistics

8. 27% of male and 26% of female survey takers believe that mainstream media reports false news most of the time.

(NWACC Library)

It seems that gender is not a major determiner when it comes to one’s aptitude to believe/doubt mainstream media. According to numerous surveys, 27% of male and 26% of female survey participants believe that mainstream media spreads fake news most of the time. Concerning the people who believe that the media sometimes reports fake news, the difference between the two genders is in a 1-point range. The biggest difference is the 6-point difference in the “not sure” option that seemed to be a predominantly female opinion (13% vs. 7% in favor of women).

9. About 44% of Republican voters in the US think mainstream media is spreading fake news.

(NWACC Library)

According to statistics on fake news, political affiliation seems to be a major determiner in public opinion. About 44% of Republican voters in the US believe that mainstream media outlets report fake news most of the time. When compared to only 7% of surveyed democrat voters, the difference is more than clear. This is mostly due to the belief that certain parties control (own) media.

10. 32% of people older than 65 believe that mainstream media outlets spread false news.

(NWACC Library)

While the younger demographic is often accused of skepticism, it’s actually the older demographic that is usually convinced that mainstream news spread fake news and alternative facts. In fact, 32% of survey participants older than 65 believe that mainstream media is spreading fake news. Contrary to this, only 22% of people under the age of 30 believe the same.

11. Ethnicity is also a determining factor, with 30% of Caucasian Americans believing mainstream media spreads fake news.

 (NWACC Library)

It is quite clear that there’s a precise correlation between trust in mainstream media and ethnicity. According to the fake news stats, only about 14% of African descent survey participants believed that mainstream media spreads fake news most of the time. Contrary to this, 30% of Caucasians have this opinion of mainstream media and believe that it has an active role in spreading fake news.

The Role of Social Media in the Spread of Fake News

12. 89% of Americans believe that social media is responsible for the spread of false news.

(Statista)

When it comes to responsibility for fake news, 89% of Americans agree that the blame goes to social media. About 69% of them also believe that platforms aren’t doing much to prevent this, while others directly blame these platforms for deliberately spreading the information. This also shows the perception of social media impact on news in general.

13. 68% of American adults read the news on social media.

(Pew Research Center)

According to numerous surveys, about two-thirds of American adults (68%) get their news from social media. Sadly, not many users have the habit of making an active effort to flag down polarizing content. According to some, platforms themselves should encourage such behavior and raise user immunity through education.

14. 61% of millennials receive political news via Facebook.

(Pew Research Center)

While the majority of people are suspicious of the mainstream media, social media should also be examined here. First of all, about 61% of all millennials receive political news via Facebook. This is why it’s so easy to consider Facebook hoax shares a major threat to democracy and an overwhelmingly destructive force in the age of the information. The biggest question here is whether this social media misinformation is accidental or intentional.

15. Less than 35% of Europeans consider social media to be trustworthy.

(Statista)

When it comes to the global opinion on social media’s trustworthiness, it all depends on the region. For instance, in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Chile, and Bulgaria, the trust in social media news sources was over 70%. Conversely, in the majority of Europe, this trust level was below 35%. This merely shows the susceptibility to fake news statistics worldwide.

16. 44% of people on Facebook trust the fake news that aligns with their political beliefs.

(MIS Quarterly)

One of the most staggering finds in this field is the fact that as many as 44% of all Facebook users choose what they believe based on their own personal beliefs. This further supports the fact that, instead of examining the information themselves, people who encounter this new knowledge have already made up their minds on whether they’ll believe it or not. Given the percentage of false information on the internet, this idea is quite worrying.

17. In Q1 of 2018, Facebook removed 837 million pieces of spam.

(Facebook)

Facebook is actively trying to limit the amount of spam that its users are exposed to. According to their statistics, in Q1 of 2018, they removed 837 million pieces of spam. Identifying these pieces, however, is incredibly difficult. The most reliable way to do so is to crack down on false accounts. During this same period, Facebook also removed 583 million of these accounts. This is a staggering example of fake news on Facebook statistics that deserves some further examination.

18. In September 2018, there were 70 million fake news engagements.

(JournoLink)

Previously, we’ve discussed the problem caused by spam and engagement on fake news posts. In 2016, identified fake news content consisted of around 200 million engagements every month. The accent here is on the word “identified” since it is impossible to know how many of these fake news sites remain under the radar. Nonetheless, in September 2018, only 70 million such engagements were noticed. While these false information stats are concerning, there’s clearly an active (and successful) effort to suppress them.

Fake News Statistics - People Protesting

The Effect of Fake News on Politics

19. 71% of people believe that fake news negatively affects their own political discussions with their friends and family members.

(Statista)

The majority of people are willing to believe the news that aligns with their own political news. This often happens regardless of the source since the majority of people don’t bother to verify the content. This is why about 71% of people believe that fake news negatively affects political discussions with their friends and family members.

20. 83% of people believe that fake news has a negative effect on their country’s politics.

(Statista)

The majority of people seem to be aware that fake news shapes their country’s politics. Moreover, 83% of them believe that false reporting has a negative influence on their country’s politics. These people also believe that it harms the political discussion in their country.

21. About 80% of people are convinced that fake news has a negative effect on other countries’ politics.

(Statista)

The fact that about 80% of people believe that fake news negatively affects other countries’ politics speaks volumes of it as a global phenomenon. Furthermore, 82% of people think that false reporting has a negative effect on a political discussion in other countries. This is the best example of public awareness of the misinformation effect on politics.

22. In 2019, there was a massive rise (36%) in media exaggeration.

(The Guardian)

There’s this thing called the car accident phenomenon. Although everyone knows car accidents are disturbing, no one can walk by it without looking at it. For this very reason, about 95% of all news headlines are blown out of proportion. It is also why 90% of all media news is negative. Most importantly, it’s the main reason why, in 2019 alone, media exaggeration saw a staggering rise of 36%.

23. A fake news outlet in France generated 11 million interactions monthly.

(Icelandic Journalists’ Association)

According to false reporting statistics, one known fake news outlet in France generated about 11 million interactions per month. This was roughly five times more than some of the better-established news brands. On the one hand, this is a clear testament to the reach and influence of fake political news sites. On the other hand, false news outlets usually don’t generate as many interactions (even when they have a superior reach).

24. Top 20 fake news stories during the 2016 US elections had 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments.

(arXiv)

The best example of how this public opinion is getting formed through false information can be seen in the 2016 US presidential elections. Statistics show that the top 20 fake news stories during the 2016 US elections had 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments. In comparison, the top 20 real stories had only 7,367,000 engagements. These are some shocking fake news influence US election statistics.

Statistics Behind Recognizing Fake News

25. There are two major types of fake news.

(Mind Tools)

There are two major types of fake news that one needs to learn how to tell apart. The first one is news that is just outright fake. The other type are stories that have some truth to them but are not entirely accurate. The problem here lies in the fact that the true story gives these statistics some credibility, thus making them more believable.

26. The number of authors makes a difference in credibility.

(arXiv)

During the examination of figuring out the fake news methodology, it was noticed that the number of authors played a huge role. Namely, works with no signed authors usually proved to be fake. Information coming from one author could go either side, but news from two and more authors usually turned out to be true.

27. 28% of authors post both fake and true stories.

(arXiv)

Using the author’s credibility to estimate how reliable the story is might not be the most reliable method. In one survey, about 28% of all authors posted both fake and true stories. This almost completely ruins the idea of categorizing authors into fake news and true news authors.

Conclusion

One of the most interesting things about these fake news statistics is that people seem to possess a general lack of ability to critically examine information. Sure, the majority of people are aware of the downsides of mainstream media but not enough of them are suspicious of random information they encounter online.

The only way to overcome this problem is to be suspicious of everything and learn how to ask the right questions. While it is true that some sources are more credible than others, the source itself is still not the guarantee of the validity of the information a reader is receiving. In other words, in the digital era, critical thinking is the only thing standing between the reader and fake news.

FAQ

What percentage of news is fake?

The exact number of fake news out there is impossible to tell, but as many as 86% of all internet users admit they have been duped by fake news, at one point or another. This was based on a sample group of 25,000 internet users across 25 countries and, while it can be taken as a representative, it still doesn’t show the full scale of the problem.

What percentage of statistics are made up?

Interpreting data is an exact science only if one has all the factors that go into certain research. This never happens in the real world, so the exact number is never 100% accurate and is always hard to give. The biggest problem with online statistics is that 94% of people never check the number they’re presented with. How do we know that? Well, the number of 94% from the previous sentence was completely arbitrarily chosen.

How many fake news sites are there?

There are several ways to approach this question. First, one could say that 62% of online news, websites, and platforms are viewed as prevalently fake by internet users. Other than this, about 87% of all adults believe that fake news is made worse by the internet and that they have a negative effect on their country’s political life.

How much fake news is there on Facebook?

Facebook is quickly cracking down on negative news sources. According to the fake news statistics, the number of engagements with spreaders of fake news has fallen from 200 million in 2016 to 70 million in 2018. This is a sizable advantage, even though the algorithm designed to detect fake news isn’t perfect.

Who coined the term fake news?

While it was definitely popularized by President Donald Trump, the term “fake news” was not coined by him. The term itself dates from the late 19th century, and it was used by journalists in order to attack their rival newspapers and magazines.

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