The 2020 U.S. presidential election is approaching, bringing more attention to the saturation of fake news on social media platforms. New research from business news and how-to website The Manifest finds people are aware of the potential for fake news on social media—and they say they’re confident in their ability to spot it.
The majority of social media users (97 percent) say they are confident in their ability to spot fake news on social media, but experts question if people will actually be able to identify fraudulent content as emerging technologies improve.
“I’m confident that [people who create and circulate fake news] are going to get better and better at making it look more and more real,” said Anna Liotta, an interpersonal communications expert, in a news release.
Artificial intelligence can be used to create realistic and convincing “deep fakes,” or hyper-realistic videos or images that make someone appear to do or say something he or she didn’t do.
For example, in August 2019, artists created a deep fake video of Elon Musk singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Although this video was meant to entertain, it shows how the technology could be applied to mislead and misinform social media users.
Everyone agrees fake news is an issue
Perhaps the only thing people on opposite sides of the political spectrum can agree on is that fake news is a problem. Nearly all liberals (92 percent), moderates (94 percent), and conservatives (94 percent) think fake news on social media is an issue.
Fake news not only threatens politicians, but also the reputations of individuals and businesses. “From revenge-seeking exes to discontented employees, just about anyone with some digital know-how (or a small amount of cash to hire someone with that knowledge) could potentially manufacture a fake video,” said Justin Lavelle, chief communications officer for BeenVerified, in the release.
Fake news doesn’t stop people from using social media
Fake news is not unique to just one social media platform. More than half of people have seen fake news on Facebook (70 percent) and Twitter (54 percent) in the past month, while many have also seen fake news on YouTube (47 percent), Reddit (43 percent), and Instagram (40 percent).
Fake news doesn’t deter people from using social networks, even if they see it regularly: More than half of Facebook users (53 percent) say fake news doesn’t impact their use of the platform, and only 1 percent say they would delete Facebook because of fake news.
“At the end of the day, people really don’t truly care because if they did, they would need to make a change,” said Johnathan Dane, founder and CEO of Kilent Boost, in the release. “The habits have already been formed.”
The Manifest surveyed 537 U.S. social media users.