North Carolinians think fake news is a problem, report that they see it frequently and think they’re good at spotting it, a poll finds.
Meredith College polled 876 registered voters Feb. 19-28 by phone and email and found that more than 88 percent say they think fake news confuses Americans about politics and government.
All groups believed in the effect of fake news roughly equally – there were no significant differences in the results regardless of participants’ political affiliation, age, race or ethnic group, or where a person is from, according to the poll released by Meredith this week.
More than 75 percent of poll participants said they come across fake news frequently or occasionally, and that percentage also was the same across political party affiliation, age, race/ethnicity and hometown.
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Davidson College on Tuesday launched a free, two-week online course called “The Story of Fake News,” facilitated by journalists, scholars and media pundits to help people learn about media, technology and fake news.
Nearly 82 percent of people who participated in the Meredith poll said they feel confident in their ability to spot fake news. Republicans and Democrats felt equally confident, as did all North Carolinians of all age groups polled.
“It is likely that the highly partisan nature of politics in the state and nation has caused North Carolinians to label any political news they disagree with as ‘fake news,’” Meredith’s poll report said. “Although there is evidence of fake news stories that have been spread through social media, the perceived impact of these stories is greater than their actual significance.”
The poll also asked participants where they get their political news.
TV was the most popular – 50 percent of those polled said television is where they got most of their political news. News websites were the second-most popular choice at 25.6 percent, 10.3 percent said social media, 6.7 percent said radio and 5.3 percent said print.
Fox News was the most frequently mentioned network for Republicans, and CNN was most frequently mentioned by Democrats and unaffiliated voters who said they get most of their politics news from TV.
A large majority of those polled – 86.7 percent – said the country is more divided today than in the past, and the participants generally agreed regardless of political affiliation.
But when asked about whether the country will be more, less or equally divided in five years, Republicans were more optimistic, with nearly 35 percent saying the country would be less divided. About 20 percent of Democrats felt the same.
“The results indicate that North Carolinians live in political bubbles in which they favor media outlets that reflect their political beliefs,” said David McLennan, visiting professor of political science and one of the poll’s directors. “This helps explain the extreme partisanship that they report and the overall pessimism that the political divide will be bridged in the near future.”
Of the 876 registered voters polled: 33.3 percent were Democrats, 35.1 percent were Republicans and 30.6 percent were unaffiliated; 54.2 percent were women, 45.8 percent were men; 45 percent made more than $50,000 annually; 80 percent were white, 14.1 percent were black and 5.9 percent were “other”; and 55.8 percent were older than 46.
The poll had a 3 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level. It used a random sample of households with landlines, cell phones and email addresses.
To read the poll, go to www.meredith.edu/images/uploads/Spring_2017_Poll_on_Partisanship_and_Fake_News.pdf.