Misinformation is a reality in politics. However, the 2016 U.S. presidential election brought “fake news” and “alternative facts” into the national dialogue like never before. Claims of “fake news” are a new reality of this political era. An analysis by Buzzfeed found that the top 20 fake news stories about the 2016 presidential election received more engagement on Facebook than the top 20 new stories from the major news outlets. And most Americans are getting their news from social media with a recent Pew Research study finding that 6 in 10 Americans get their news from social media.

At Branded, we wanted to know how our community members feel about the validity and authenticity of the information they read on websites and social media. And do panelists feel they can discriminate between serious news and false stories? We asked our community members how confident they feel in their ability to identify fake news and 15,725 members responded.

Overall, over 1 in 3 Branded community members feel confident in their ability to spot fake news on websites and social media, with 52 percent indicating they are somewhat confident in their abilities. Only 13 percent of community members don’t feel confident at all in their abilities to identify fake news.

Level of Confidence in Identifying Fake News Online

Within our community, specific segments of members are more likely than others to feel confident in their abilities to sniff out fake news.  Our research found that panelists who are male, upscale, highly educated or young are more likely than the average to cite confidence in recognizing fake information when reading news on websites or social media. 

  • Roughly 42 percent of men are certain they can recognize fake news, compared to only 31 percent of women
  • About 45 percent of high-income community members with household income in excess of $100,000 indicate they are confident in identifying fake news
  • Approximately 46 percent of highly educated community members with graduate degrees are comfortable identifying fake news
  • About 43 percent of Millennials (age 21-38) feel confident in their abilities to pick out fake news