Are you con­fi­dent when it comes to spot­ting fake news? Accord­ing to a new study, almost every­one is – and this con­fi­dence means they have no prob­lems in chang­ing their social media activ­i­ty as the 2020 elec­tions loom.

Data from B2B mar­ket­ing and research firm Clutch has found that 97% of the more than 500 US-based social media users polled said they were con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ty to recog­nise fake news on social media.

Face­book is the most fre­quent plat­form for mis­in­for­ma­tion, with more than two thirds (70%) of respon­dents say­ing they had seen fake news there in the past month. This com­pares with Twit­ter, for whom more than half (54%) have seen fak­ery, YouTube (47%), Red­dit (43%) and Insta­gram (40%). As a result, only 1% of respon­dents said they would can­cel their Face­book accounts as a result of fake news.

Yet the report explored how deep­fakes were rep­re­sent­ing a more sophis­ti­cat­ed threat to fake news spot­ters. A report ear­li­er this month from the NYU Stern Cen­ter for Busi­ness and Human Rights pre­dict­ed, among eight prog­nos­ti­ca­tions, that deep­fakes ‘will be deployed to por­tray can­di­dates say­ing and doing things they nev­er said or did’. The report rec­om­mend­ed social media com­pa­nies improve their AI-screen­ing tech­nol­o­gy, enhance human review, and remove deep­fakes before they can do too much dam­age.

“[Worst case sce­nar­ios include] polit­i­cal insta­bil­i­ty and chaos as a result of loss [of] faith in any media and the con­fu­sion about basic real­i­ty and a sense that truth is just your opin­ion,” said Aaron Law­son, assis­tant direc­tor of SRI International’s speech tech­nol­o­gy and research lab­o­ra­to­ry.

“It is like­ly peo­ple will sim­ply learn to ignore images, video, or audio that they don’t already agree with based on the assump­tion that it has been faked,” he added.

This was part of the report’s over­all con­clu­sion. “Peo­ple should be scep­ti­cal of what they see on social media, includ­ing sto­ries and adver­tise­ments,” the report said. “Social media and dig­i­tal mar­keters and busi­ness­es that use social media ads should be aware of what red flags con­sumers look for to deter­mine if what they’re see­ing on social media is trust­wor­thy.”

Per­haps the one area of agree­ment was that fake news was a bi-par­ti­san issue. The vast major­i­ty of con­ser­v­a­tives (94%), mod­er­ates (94%) and lib­er­als (92%) all agreed in this instance. A study in April from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri argued that polit­i­cal mod­er­ates on Twit­ter were ‘los­ing their voic­es’. Michael Kear­ney, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Mis­souri School of Jour­nal­ism, cre­at­ed soft­ware to exam­ine the user net­works of 3,000 ran­dom fol­low­ers of well-known accounts.

“We are not nec­es­sar­i­ly get­ting far­ther and far­ther apart – it’s just the peo­ple in the mid­dle are becom­ing more qui­et and with­drawn,” said Kear­ney.

You can read the full Clutch study here.

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