College students are skeptical of misinformation

Half of students surveyed said they are not confident in discerning “real news” from “fake news.”

 

How Students Engage With News
Project Information Literacy
Oct. 16, 2018

Thanks to misinformation, young people are distrusting of news and unsure in their ability to spot it, according to new research from Project Information Literacy. A new media consumption study shows nearly half of American college students surveyed said they lacked confidence in telling real from fake news on social media. “More than anything, students mentioned the ‘fake news’ phenomenon in their comments and interviews, particularly its far-reaching impact on people’s ability to distinguish truthful and accurate news coverage from misinformation and outright lies,” the report says.

The result: Young news consumers are skeptical of all news. Researchers found students often check multiple news sources because of the possibility of misinformation, and about three-fourths of them say they don’t trust a news item if they don’t know where it came from.

Key Numbers:

  • More than one-third of students said the threat of misinformation made them trust all media less.
  • About half (45 percent) said they weren’t confident in discerning “real news” from “fake news.”
  • Where do students get their news on a weekly basis? Their peers (93 percent), social media (89 percent) and online newspaper sites (76 percent).

Study Details:

  • Project Information Literacy conducted the mixed-methods study during 2017 and 2018.
  • Nearly 6,000 American students from 11 colleges, universities and community colleges participated in the online survey. The study also included telephone interviews and a computational analysis of Twitter data from more than 135,000 college-aged users.