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Why do people share fake news? These revealed answers are seriously worrying

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Hollie Richardson
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New research shows that men are more likely to share fake news than women – here are some of the shocking reasons why people do it. 

Fake news is rife in 2019. Even Prince Harry had a few strong words to say about it recently

Just three years ago in 2016, trust in the media in America was reported as being at an all-time low. In the UK, research showed that less than half of adults thought the media did a good job of getting their facts right. With pretty much anyone who has a social media account able to instantly share any news at the click of a button, the fake news cycle is ongoing.

Now, a new research study shared by the Independent has found that four in 10 people have shared false political news. More worryingly, 17% of these admitted to knowing the information was false before sharing. 

But, what are the actual reasons for people wanting to share fake stories?

Woman reading news
Men are more likely to share fake news than women.

The study of 2,005 people, carried out by Loughborough University’s Online Civic Culture Centre (OCCC), found that almost a fifth of cases said they share news to deliberately upset others. Other common reasons for passing on false news included “to express my feelings” (65%), “to inform others” (also 65%), “to find out others’ opinions” (51%) and “to influence others” (44%).

It also showed that men are more likely to intentionally share fake news than women and younger internet users, and those with an interest in politics pass on more false information. According to the findings, right-wing users were more likely to spread news they knew to be fake, while left-wingers were more likely to try and correct the misinformation.

Around a third (33%) said they had been corrected by other social media users, but only 8.5% said they had called out another person for sharing made-up news.

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The report described the numbers admitting to deliberately setting out to upset as “troubling”.

“In today’s media systems, large numbers of ordinary citizens circulate political information with great regularity,” said one of the report’s authors, OCCC director Professor Andrew Chadwick.

“Consequently, false and misleading information can become widely distributed – and quickly. Exploring why, and with what effects, people share news about politics on social media is therefore an essential part of the broader debate about the relationship between the internet and democracy.”

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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