January 18, 2019 – The good news is that the vast majority (90%) of Facebook users do not pass along articles that represent fake news. But the bad news is that people over 65 are seven times more likely than younger people to post about articles that are not factual.
The study was done by a group at Princeton University who studied the 2016 election campaign. They found that the Facebook users who shared the most fake stories were much more likely to be over the age of 65, and to be self-declared Republicans.
The authors of the study concluded that, just as older people are more likely to fall for financial scams, so they are open to manipulation by groups that publish stories on the web that are just not true.
What can you do? Regardless of party, the vast majority of people do not want to encourage or pass along false information, whether it comes from Russia, China, hate groups, or political partisans. We encourage you to have a critical eye towards everything you read online. Ask yourself, is this published by a media outlet that employs trained journalists committed to the truth, or on a website with little or no editorial oversight? Just about every news organization has some degree of bias, but bias is a lot different than publishing false information. So if you read something that seems sensational, give it the sniff test. You can use fact checking websites like snopes.com and factcheck.org to help you detect if something is true or not.