“Fake news” is one of the most used terms nowadays. You can’t escape it and it’s terrifying; spreading misinformation and making you doubt sources that you used to trust. Different media companies have tried to teach users how to recognize fake news, highlighting the things you should be on the lookout for and asking people to be thorough before they hit that share button.
A study conducted by Princeton and New York University found that seniors are the users who are more likely to share fake news.
The research argues that the largest determining factor on whether or not someone shares fake news — regardless of political orientation, gender, and other characteristics — is if the user is over 65 years old.
Researchers surveyed 3,500 American adults, looking through their Facebook activity and then checking to see if they’d shared a fake news link during the 2016 electoral campaign. Users in the 65+ age group shared fake news twice as much as the next older-age group of 45 to 65 years old.
The study also found another bit of interesting information, which is that the fake news phenomenon is exaggerated and not as common as some people think — at least when it comes to public Facebook posts. “The vast majority of Facebook users in our data did not share any articles from fake news domains in 2016 at all,” reveals the study.
Of the samples that the study analyzed, Republicans and Conservatives had a tendency to share more fake news than Democrats and other groups of people.
Heads of the study have two theories on why elders are more likely to share fake news: “The first is that older people, who came to the internet later, lack the digital literacy skills of their younger counterparts. The second is that people experience cognitive decline as they age, making them likelier to fall for hoaxes.”
Although this reveal is kind of sad for older internet users, it’s reassuring to know that most of us don’t believe in everything we encounter online. We should know fake news when we see it.