More people identify fake news as a bigger problem than racism: survey

A large majority of adults in the U.S. say fake news is a major problem, and many of them see it as a bigger problem than racism, terrorism or climate change, a new survey shows.

In a survey of more than 6,000 Americans, 68 percent said made-up news and information majorly affects their confidence in government institutions, according to a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday.

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Fifty-four percent said they think that fake news has a big impact on Americans’ confidence in each other, while 51 percent cited an effect on political leaders’ ability to get things done.

More than half of those surveyed — 57 percent — blame political leaders and staff for spreading false information, while 53 percent said activists were responsible for the problem. Journalists were blamed by 36 percent of respondents.

Despite more people blaming nonmedia officials for spreading fake news, a majority of those surveyed, 53 percent, said the news media carries the most responsibility in reducing fake news. Only 12 percent said the onus falls on the government to stop the spread of misinformation.

Compared to Democrats, Republicans were more likely to say made-up news is a very big problem in the U.S. and that they’re exposed to made-up news.

They’re also three times as likely as Democrats — 58 percent compared to 20 percent — to say journalists create a lot of fake news, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted Feb. 19-March 4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.