Study Suggests Voters May Overestimate How Well They Spot Misleading News | technology

A majority of Americans are concerned that voters will base their decisions in the upcoming midterm elections on false or misleading information, but only a fraction of them believe this will happen to them, according to a new poll by Knight Foundation and Ipsos.

Researchers say the findings suggest that while Americans are now fully engaged with the potential threats posed by online disinformation in US elections, they may be overconfident in their ability to thwart them individually.

According to the study, 61% of respondents are “somewhat” or “very” concerned that people in their community are making voting decisions based on misleading information they see on social media, while 58% believe people are being misled by false information News.

But when asked about their own likelihood of being influenced or deceived by false or misleading information, the percentage of respondents raising concerns dropped to 1 in 4.

“We all seem to overestimate our ability to navigate a fragmented media landscape right now, and that should worry me greatly,” said John Sands, senior director for media and democracy at the Knight Foundation.

He added, “To me, it says almost more about the respondents than it does about the respondents’ friends and neighbors.”

The researchers also found a “high level of consensus” among the public that incorrect election information is a problem on social media, including among a majority of both Democrats and Republicans.

76 percent of Americans said incorrect voting information was a problem; 88% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans and 70% of independents agreed.

“In this election cycle, Americans seem to have linked the quality of the information they consume online to the resilience of our democracy,” Sands said. “For me, that’s something that jumps out of the page – that people see the dangers to democracy posed by harmful content online.”

However, party differences were more pronounced when respondents were asked which specific types of disinformation should be restricted in elections.

While a clear majority of Democrats and Republicans said tech companies should limit apparent attempts to mislead voters, including by providing false election information, support among Republicans has been more muted for limiting unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud or content that ” affect how someone perceives their safety in the election day.”

89% of Democrats said social media should restrict unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and 76% said the platforms should restrict content related to voter security, while support for such restrictions among Republicans was 54% and 49%, respectively.

“That’s consistent, to me, with some of our previous polls … showing that while Republicans are still concerned about these issues, they don’t show the same level of concern or urgency of concern around them as Democrats do,” he said sands .

In one area, Americans were largely unanimous: the government should stay away from regulating social media to minimize election misinformation.

According to the survey, just 1 in 3 people said they support government regulation of social media companies to curb election misinformation, while higher rates of respondents — 50% and 49% respectively — called for individuals to take more personal responsibility for the spread of misinformation and for companies to more aggressively monitor inaccurate content.

The poll was conducted October 14-16 and surveyed 1,024 Americans ages 18 and older.


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