Republicans are more likely to believe so-called “fake news,” inasmuch as they’re more likely to share a news story on social media without verifying it first. This is according to new research published by consumer loan provider Credit Loan, whose blog also publishes research and news items that extend to customers’ other interests besides the financial.
The researchers interviewed 1,068 Americans across the political spectrum – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – and asked them some simple questions about their news reading and social media sharing habits.
“Do you check if the source or story is reliable before you “like,” retweet, or share a story? Or do you take a risk online and share without vetting your sources?”
And as it turns out, the ability to spot fake news seems to be tied to political ideology in some ways.
How The Different Parties Respond
As it turns out, survey respondents who identified as Republican were the least likely to spot fake news – to the tune of being 30 percent more likely then Democrats to share a fake news story without first checking it out. Survey respondents who identified as independent were the least likely to be done in by fake news.
How Did They Figure This Out?
The researchers gave the respondents an interactive quiz; you can take the quiz yourself by following the link in the first paragraph of this article to see how you do. They were first shown 10 headlines and asked to select “real” or “fake” based on the headline alone. In the next phase of the quiz, respondents were shown screenshots of the articles and asked to answer again.
Looking into the 2016 presidential election, the researchers determined that Trump supporters were more likely to share fake news than Clinton supporters.
That’s All Well & Good – So How Do I Spot Fake News?
Believe it or not, it can be trickier than you think.
But first and foremost, always remember the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Although in this case, substitute the word “good” with the word “ridiculous.” That’s Phase One. And although there are legitimate, if ridiculous, news stories hitting the media every day (this writer has written about plenty of them), if you’re suspicious that the headline is off, you’re probably right.
So then you move on to Phase Two: check your source. If the provider is a trusted source like CNN or Newsweek, the story is most likely legitimate, although no publication is completely above reporting with at least some bias, and even trusted news sources sometimes get taken in by hoaxes. If the source is one you’ve never heard of, or if it’s on a list of known providers of satirical stories (such as The Onion), then it’s fake.
Even so, fake news purveyors are getting sophisticated by spoofing graphics, fonts, and even websites to make their fake stories look real. Which brings us to Phase Three: check the url. For example, in this url – https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/10/politics/senators-reaction-mccain-gina-haspel/index.html – you’ll notice that “cnn” and “.com” appear next to each other. That means it’s a legitimate CNN link. If another domain name appeared between “cnn” and “.com” (or “.co.uk” or “.in” or whatever), it’s a spoof.
If you’re still concerned, simply dig a little deeper (Phase Four). Look for other sources to verify your headline. If only one source is reporting it, it’s probably false. Check fact-checking sites like Politifact or Snopes. Chances are, if the news story is real, you’ll be able to verify it with another source.