The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in news consumption on social media as people stuck indoors use platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to stay connected with the outside world.
Unfortunately, people who rely on social networks as their primary source of news are most likely say they've seen made-up news about COVID-19, a study found.
Fifty-seven percent of
U.S. adults who get most of
their news from social media
said they've seen misinformation about COVID-19, compared with only 37% of people who prefer print for news, according to a survey conducted this month by Pew Research
People who mostly depend on social media for news only make up 18% of the U.S. population, and they tend to be very misinformed about COVID-19. Thirty-seven percent of the
group follows news about the pandemic, the lowest of any group of news consumers, and they scored poorly on answering a question about the availability of a vaccine, according to Pew.
Some 70% of social news consumers said the media exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus, though people who rely on radio and news websites were almost as likely to see those
exaggerations. Only 52% of print news readers perceived exaggerated news about coronavirus risks.
The findings are disturbing, considering that millions of Americans rely on
social media as their primary news source. Social networks are rife with misinformation — ranging from commentary by people who don't have a strong grip on their facts to fake news published by
malicious troll farms that seek to sow fear, distrust and social division.
Facebook, Google and Twitter this month said they have worked to remove misinformation about the
coronavirus as quickly as possible, but they’re having mixed success in separating fact from fiction. For example, a tech marketer who posted a story on Medium
that played down the
coronavirus threat was shared more than 50,000 times on Facebook, The New York Times reported
ended up removing the post for violating its policies.
Facebook last year created a special section in its app to showcase articles from reputable news
sources, including The Wall Street Journal, as part of a broader effort to fight fake news and misinformation.
The pandemic has led to a jump in news consumption on
Facebook in the past couple of weeks. More than half the stories that people read on Facebook were about COVID-19, according to an internal memo leaked to the NYT. Facebook drove a 50% jump
in traffic to other websites last week from the prior seven days.
Ideally, those readers are finding reliable information that helps them avoid the deadly contagion and bogus