False Positives and Fake News

I keep losing this information, so I thought I’d put it here on the blog. Some notes to thinking about disinfo in a different way. I realize this is a lot of stuff from everywhere and nothing is directly comparable. But some trends emerge.

First from Pew most people think they are good or pretty good at spotting fake news:


That’s partially because people tend to believe they are slightly above average at almost everything, but there you go.

From that same report (late 2016) many people tended to overestimate how often they saw fake news. A reasonable answer for most people would be sometimes given what we know about overall frequency. Again, maybe this is just a difference in definitions or psychological salience:


Ok, and then there’s this from Harvard’s IOP, on 18-29 year-olds, from March of 2017. I don’t like the term “fake news” here, because it could also trigger Trump identification and responses based on that (e.g. CNN shows up in feed, that’s fake news, right?). But fascinating, right? The average answer to what percentage is fake is about 50%! (h/t Joshua Benton for pointing me here):


Then there’s this from a Politico poll from October 2017.


Followed by this chilling result:


And this from September 2016:


Anyway, all this leads me wonder if most people who think they are very good at spotting fake news are actually generating a lot of false positives. Again, this isn’t meant to argue that point necessarily — just wanted to collect these charts in one place.

One thought on “False Positives and Fake News

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