Older people are almost four times more likely to have shared fake news on Facebook than the younger generation, according to research published in the journal Science.
On average, American Facebook users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as those aged between 18 and 29, researchers from NYU and Princeton found in the study, which also concluded sharing such false content was “a relatively rare activity”.
Few people shared fake news in 2016 election, but seniors shared the most
If you're convinced your grandparents or crazy old Uncle Larry share a lot more dubious posts on Facebook, your intuition is likely correct. It's primarily people over the age of 65, identifying as conservative or Republican, who shared the most fake news articles during the 2016 election, according to a new study published in Science Advances. But the overall number of people who shared fake news at all is actually very low: less than nine percent.
“In that sense, I'm happy to confirm what everybody thought,” said co-author Andrew Guess, a political scientist at Princeton University. “It's always nice to have the data to back it up.”
Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook
Abstract: So-called “fake news” has renewed concerns about the prevalence and effects of misinformation in political campaigns. Given the potential for widespread dissemination of this material, we examine the individual-level characteristics associated with sharing false articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. To do so, we uniquely link an original survey with respondents’ sharing activity as recorded in Facebook profile data.
First and foremost, we find that sharing this content was a relatively rare activity. Conservatives were more likely to share articles from fake news domains, which in 2016 were largely pro-Trump in orientation, than liberals or moderates. We also find a strong age effect, which persists after controlling for partisanship and ideology: On average, users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.