1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

New study finds internet users over 65 share the most fake news

By William Gayde ยท 50 replies
Jan 11, 2019
Post New Reply
  1. Researchers at New York and Princeton Universities have conducted a study that shows Americans over 65 are the most likely to share fake news. Ever since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the notion of fake news has become a case of study as social media companies work to combat its spread.

    Facebook was perhaps the most notorious due to the numerous misinformation campaigns that took place on the site. With the accepted consensus that Russia produced a vast amount of fake news to help Donald Trump win the presidency, it's easy to see just how much of an impact fake news can have.

    The study began back in 2016 before the election and consisted of 3,500 people. To conduct the study, the participants agreed to share their profile data with the researchers. Their post history was then compared with a list of known fake news domains and tracked through time.

    When studying the social media habits of Americans, the researchers noted that age was the best predictor of one's tendency to share hoaxes. This was even better than education level, income, or political party affiliation. However, the study did reveal that "conservatives were more likely to share articles from fake news domains, which in 2016 were largely pro-Trump in orientation."

    Most of the news shared was legitimate, but the study found that 18% of Republicans shared fake news and less than 4% of Democrats did. Overall, they determined that users over 65 shared nearly seven times as much fake news as the youngest age group (18-29).

    While the study did not determine a cause for why older users share more fake news, the researchers do have two hypotheses. The first is that older people were not raised in an internet-connected society and may lack digital literacy skills. Hoaxes may look just as legitimate to them as real news. The second hypothesis is that as we age, we experience cognitive decline. The researchers believe this may be why the elderly more easily fall victim to online scams and hoaxes.

    Permalink to story.

  2. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,113   +1,588

    Shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Folks in that age category are not tech-savvy and are trusting of anything that shows up in front of them via computer screen.

    Arguably the largest group that needs tech education....but won't take it when offered.
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,662   +2,418

    "Most of the news shared was legitimate, but the study found that 18% of Republicans shared fake news and less than 4% of Democrats did."

    And exactly who is determining which news is fake? Politico? NBC? LOL, all meaningless statistics when 99% of the media has chosen sides politically.
  4. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,367   +1,819

    It's taken from a list of 100% known fake news distributors. The statistics are not made by the media in this case.
  5. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 656   +633

    To you and anyone else interested in this topic, I'd recommend reading Post-Truth by James Ball (there's another Post-Truth published around a similar time, ignore that one, it's crap). The James Ball book is an interesting look at the phenomenon of fake news and disinformation.

    The book, and many other commentators on the issue, outline the problem of 'fake news' and why it can be tricky to pin down, as there's different degrees to which a news piece can be 'fake', but all three get conflated by audiences. I'd definitely recommend checking it out.
  6. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    According to Facebook's figures, only a tiny fraction* of 1% of the political material on the site during the 2016 election cycle was of Russian origin. Its influence on the election was by any reasonable appraisal insignificant, yet it suits the agenda of powerful interests for there to be Russophobia, and the mainstream media is only too happy to cooperate.

    *And I mean "tiny". I forget the exact figure, but it was something like 1/1000 or 1/10000 of one percent.
    Arne Saknussemm likes this.
  7. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    Also, look at the left hand side of the charts. Even the conservatives or over-65s shared an average of less than one "fake" story during the entire period.

    Remember too -- and this is important -- that over-65s tend to be the most conservative demographic, so it may be that age in itself is not responsible for the susceptibility.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,266   +4,935

    So what age was the person that shared this article?
  9. Fake News article.

    Who defined those sites. Who defines fake news? If anyone shares a CNN article they are sharing fake news...most of the news is fake in some way. Journalism has no integrity whatsoever anymore.

    JamesSWD and JaredTheDragon like this.
  10. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,367   +1,819

    Just like you can fact check something, others can do it too. It's not that hard. This is not about some mythical being or God.

    If you see a news article on facebook that has the following headline: "Trump promised to pay his taxes if he gets re-elected" or "George Bush didn't start a war for oil" then you know it is fake news.
    Charles Olson and Capaill like this.
  11. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,903   +3,350

    126 million Americans saw Russian ads or other propaganda as part of their influence campaign through Facebook alone.


    This is the official number Facebook submitted to congress.

    Russophobia? The better question would be who in the Trump administration wasn't in contact with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. It's kind of hard to dispute that the Trump campaign had many Russian contacts during the campaign they actively failed to disclose and purposefully hid.

    Not that you need to take my word for it, all three US intelligence agencies have already came to the conclusion that the Russians very actively attempted to interfere with the election not only in cyber space but with grass roots campaigns on American soil as well. Martina Butina is a prime example of that but she is one among many. The fact that the president of the country took the words of a ruthless dictator over his own intelligence arms says enough.

    If you are so inclined, research the documents and videos that have been made public. You can find videos that show just the congressional hearings and the direct words of the intelligence community with zero spin. And if you were Russia why wouldn't you exploit any weakness possible, it would go against human nature to do otherwise.
  12. From the "paper"

    "Posts containing links to external websites are cross-referenced against lists of fake news publishers built by journalists and academics."

    I.e. The biggest purveyors of fake news are deciding who they want to call fake news along strictly ideological lines and then creating fake studies to reinforce their ideologies.

    Garbage in garbage out.

    It would be funny if it weren't so insidious and dangerous.

    They will be burning books (websites) they don't like soon just like they did all through history. Arguably they have already started.

    The "references" in this "paper"...and referenced list...BuzzFeed
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2019
    dms96960 and JaredTheDragon like this.
  13. Humza

    Humza TechSpot Staff Posts: 240   +136

    ForgottenLegion and Puiu like this.
  14. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Guru Posts: 384   +390

    Because they don't know what they're doing.

    Get off the computer grandpa, you're wasting the Internet!
    drjekelmrhyde likes this.
  15. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,265   +3,680

    Speak for your self! I've been "tech savy" for longer than you've been alive ...... LOL
  16. fluffydestroyer

    fluffydestroyer TS Booster Posts: 50   +29

    Trump is 72, just say'n
  17. "The study began back in 2016 before the election and consisted of 3,500 people."
    not enough people to be representative of the 380 million Americans IMHO
  18. nnguy2

    nnguy2 TS Booster Posts: 27   +28

    you should take a course on sampling theory before you make a dumb statement like that.

    a random sample of 3,500 is more than enough. you don't gain anymore info by expanding the sample size. hell most opinion polls sample less than 1,000 people with a margin of error of less than 3%.
    Charles Olson, B5S46M and pit1209 like this.
  19. Tantor

    Tantor TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +59

    That's not true. The younger generations can be remarkably ignorant about tech other than their cellphones.

    I worked for years as the head of IT and Security at a large engineering organization. Computer and general technical competence has little to do with age or college degrees. None of our top managers had any computer skills whatsoever, despite being trained engineers. Genuine, hands on technical competence actually seemed to go down as the salary went up. The best IT personnel were usually white guys who had been in the business a long time.

    There's a myth that Trump voters are ignorant. But over 50% of small US businesses are run by Republicans, vs 20% by Democrats. 80% are white and 65% are male with an average age of 50 years. These are your veteran electronic and computer techs, machinists, car mechanics, construction workers, farmers, dental technicians, HVAC techs, independent engineering and legal firms, etc. Basically the people who make the country run. They are not stupid. They have less college graduates than the Democrats for the simple fact that they attended trade and technical schools instead.

    They are the people most demonized by the media and the progressive community. All social activism targets them, and all social programs to level the playing field come at their expense.

    That's why they are renowned for specifically NOT trusting anything that shows up in front of them via computer screen. They are the skeptics that doubt global warming, question race and social agendas and progressive ideologies.
    JamesSWD, seeprime and btfsttg like this.
  20. btfsttg

    btfsttg TS Rookie Posts: 27   +17

    [QUOTE="They are the people most demonized by the media and the progressive community. All social activism targets them, and all social programs to level the playing field come at their expense.

    That's why they are renowned for specifically NOT trusting anything that shows up in front of them via computer screen. They are the skeptics that doubt global warming, question race and social agendas and progressive ideologies.[/QUOTE]

    But! The Narrative! Must maintain The Narrative!
  21. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    Millions of Americans may have seen Russian ads, but those ads were just a tiny percentage of the ads Americans were exposed to, and it can be safely assumed that the ads had a negligible effect.

    More importantly, only a small percentage of the Russian ads were political. The goal of the ads was clickbait, and they predominantly featured puppies and other clickbait topics. The ads that were political were evenly split among among anti-Hillary and anti-Trump. The much-decried Internet Research Agency (Fancy Bear) was actually just a scheme to make money from clicks. They placed ads all over the world, with only a small percentage targeted at Americans. In fact, their budget targeting the U.S. was only a few thousand dollars!

    If you're looking for foreign powers that are actively engaged in trying to influence our elections, look no further than Israel. Israel's lobby is infamous, and its influence incomparably greater than Russia's.

    A leak from the Democratic National Committee exposed that it actively worked against the Bernie Sanders campaign. To distract the public's attention, DNC and Hillary began the unfounded Russia interference accusations.

    It's no secret that Trump was trying to establish business interests in Russia. If you want to assume that those meetings with staff were concerned with election interference then you've been emotionally primed to cross the line into the absurd.

    Trump has been the most Russia hostile president since the Cold War ended. He's the first president to send military aid to Ukraine. He pulled out of a nuclear weapons treaty. He behaves most unlike someone who carries gratitude.
    JamesSWD likes this.
  22. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,903   +3,350

    First, you are going to need to cite your sources for that information. You are making some claims here that I've not seen backed by any official source.

    Second, the DNC and bernie sanders has nothing to do with Facebook and Russia's influence campaign. Completely off topic.

    Thrid, I may have originally agreed with you that the nature of those meetings could have been for anything. The only problem with that is that they weren't. In fact Trump's lawyer, Paul manafort is testifying before congress on why he shared polling data directly with a Russian Spy. That's the 3rd foreign agent the Trump campaign was directly in contact with and that's only what we know right now as the number seemingly continues to increase. That's just counting known Russian spies, not Russian ambassadors, oligarchs, ect. FYI, the Trump campaign did meet and discuss making deals with the Russian ambassador, which is illegal. Only an official of the US government who's been delegated that power can negotiate with a foreign country. So please excuse me while I say yes, I do believe Trump campaign members passing information along to spies among many other Putin linked individuals does in fact make one take the obvious and clear conclusion. Whether Trump was ignorant of that or not, his campaign was certainly influenced.

    "He behaves most unlike someone who carries gratitude."

    So his refusal to denounce Putin while slamming Americans isn't grateful? His refusal to sanction Russia until forced by congress isn't grateful? His refusal to trust US intelligence over Putin isn't grateful? Please, everyone can see Putin has Trump whipped.
    Charles Olson likes this.
  23. drjekelmrhyde

    drjekelmrhyde TS Evangelist Posts: 321   +112

    No shiat
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,779   +3,906

    George (W) Bush didn't start a war for oil, I think it was for opium, but mostly because D!ck Cheney told him to.

    (I hope we're talking about the same Bush, and the same war. There have been so many). :dizzy:

    Donald Trump doesn't owe any taxes, he said so himself.

    See, I'm over 65 and I didn't believe your fake news, so there...:p
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    senketsu, Puiu and ttyler5 like this.
  25. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,800   +1,510

    The bias openly shown in this statement is amazing. After 37 years as a programmer and avid supporter of TS, I am an example of the generation that clearly invalidates this opinion.

    IMO, taking down Twitter & Facebook would greatly reduce "Fake News" and send the kiddies to the library (yeah, I know -- wishful thinking huh).

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...