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Fri Jan 11, 2019, 07:50 AM

Age, not politics, is biggest predictor of who shares fake news on Facebook, study finds

The biggest predictor of whether someone will share fake news isn’t their political affiliation — it’s their age.

A new study from researchers at Princeton University and New York University released on Wednesday found that people 65 years of age and over are seven times more likely to share fake news than those aged 18-29.

“Political scientists tend to favor explanations based on stable, deeply held partisan or ideological predispositions,” the study’s authors wrote. “It is possible that an entire cohort of Americans, now in their 60s and beyond, lacks the level of digital media literacy necessary to reliably determine the trustworthiness of news encountered online.”

The study examined the data of 1,331 respondents who agreed to share fields from their public Facebook profile along with their timeline posts, external links and likes. The researchers looked for links to a list of narrowly defined fake news sites and a list of fake news sites debunked by fact checking organizations. The researchers didn’t measure links to contested “hyperpartisan” websites, such as conservative media outlet Breitbart.

While age proved to be the best predictor of who shared what was determined to be fake news, researchers also found conservative users were more likely to share fake news. Accelerated by algorithms that sort news based on user preferences, social media users tend to share news that reflects their existing beliefs, a phenomenon known as “confirmation bias,” and they make posts that affirm and signal their identity, [the report found/past reports have found].

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/age-not-politics-predicts-who-shares-fake-news-facebook-study-n957246?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma

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Reply Age, not politics, is biggest predictor of who shares fake news on Facebook, study finds (Original post)
demmiblue Jan 11 OP
Dennis Donovan Jan 11 #1
Igel Jan 11 #6
grumpyduck Jan 11 #2
katmondoo Jan 11 #3
blueinredohio Jan 11 #4
marybourg Jan 11 #5

Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 07:59 AM

1. This is the money paragraph, IMO:

While age proved to be the best predictor of who shared what was determined to be fake news, researchers also found conservative users were more likely to share fake news. Accelerated by algorithms that sort news based on user preferences, social media users tend to share news that reflects their existing beliefs, a phenomenon known as “confirmation bias,” and they make posts that affirm and signal their identity, [the report found/past reports have found].

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 07:48 PM

6. Confounds confound.

Older people tend to be more conservative. Without looking at the data more closely, that "money paragraph" may just be stating an age/politics correlation in another way.

Facebook users also tend to be more conservative, I suspect.

The "money paragraph" is the part that handles the largest share of the variance, whether it confirms what we thought before hand or not--it's emphatically not the paragraph that most confirms what we already believe.

In other words, shun the confirmation bias.

"Confirmation bias" isn't a conservative bias, not in the political sense; it's a human bias. Pretty much nobody is naturally given to ignoring it, and it's an easy lapse to make. For example.

It's what Feynman talked about when he said that the easiest person to deceive is yourself, and we're all excellent at it. The proper target of critical thinking isn't the opponent's views--that we're going to expose to the most withering criticism we can find. No, the proper target of critical thinking, what makes it a useful tool for educated folk, is one's own views. The more we assume something must be true because we want it to be, and because it's a crucial assumption to our way of thinking, the more essential it is that it be subject to an onslaught of critical thinking.

That, of course, is heresy to nearly every person I know. Esp. the better educated.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 08:15 AM

2. Not to mention that older folks

tend to remember the days when you could trust the news and some still believe it.

Sometimes I think these studies by experts are a joke.

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Response to grumpyduck (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 09:03 AM

3. I am old and I shut down Facebook.

I had enough dealing with the Trumpers and false news

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 09:37 AM

4. I'm 61 and have never been tempted by social media.

If not for my husband we wouldn't even have a cell phone.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2019, 09:43 AM

5. In my over 55 community, I note that people

who have little digital interaction -many don’t even have cable TV, let alone computers - still hear, repeat and believe fake anti-Obama, pro - tRump news.

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