“Fake news” is a term that is commonly used by President Donald Trump, and his critics claim that he uses the term in an errant way.
Trump has allegedly co-opted the term to include any news he deems as being unsatisfactory — or overly critical — of his policies or statements, according to reporting from PolitiFact in 2017. The news itself could be entirely accurate, but if Trump doesn’t like it, he may still call it “fake news” despite its veracity.
Real “fake news” — pardon the oxymoron — includes news reports that aren’t actually produced by legitimate news sites or publications. These articles contain content that does not conform to reality, and said content is often used to propagate ideas about people that are harmful to their image.
Although Trump isn’t using the term in the most accurate of ways — at least, according to his critics — the generation to which he belongs, the baby boomers, is spreading fake news at a faster rate than any other age group on the internet, per reporting from Motherboard.
A study conducted by researchers at Princeton University and New York University found that individuals who were older than age 65 were more likely to share fake news than any other generation. The youngest generation examined by the study — individuals between ages 18 to 29 — shared the least amount of fake news on their social media accounts.
Blame the baby boomers for fake news on Facebook https://t.co/MMHZuOmPoQ
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 10, 2019
In fact, individuals of the oldest generation were seven times more likely to share fake news than were their youngest counterparts in the study, researchers found.
Age seemed to be the common factor indicating whether a person was more or less likely to disseminate questionable content. Millennials shared less fake news than did Gen X-ers, who in turn shared less fake news than did baby boomers, for example.
One theory postulated by the study’s authors is that aging may hamper a “resistance to ‘illusions of truth,'” meaning that older people are having a harder time determining whether stories online are fake or not because they’re more likely to be unfamiliar with the medium than are younger people.
There is some good news from the study: the researchers discovered that fake news isn’t as shared as some people may think it is. About 90 percent of individuals from the sample that the study looked at didn’t spread fake news regularly on their social media timelines.
Still, the other 10 percent who did spread the fake stories may have been enough to influence the presidential election in 2016 — in favor of President Donald Trump, according to reporting from the Washington Post.