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Fake News and Media Literacy

Resources and strategies for becoming media literate.

The Extent of the Fake News Problem

PleasegoogleShakerAamerpleasegoogleDavidKelly. (2015). Fukushima Nuclear Flowers.


In the Stanford History Education Group study in 2016, only 20% of high school students questioned whether this photo might be fake.


Social Media as a Primary News Source

Fake news spreads easily and quickly on social media platforms and research shows that is where many Americans are getting their news.

A Pew Research Center study in 2021 found that: 

  • Almost half of Americans (48%) get their news from social media "often" or "sometimes"
  • Almost one-third of Americans (31%) get their news from Facebook
  • Twitter is used by 23% of American adults and 55% of those users get their news on the platform.

Media Literacy Skills Are Lacking

Research also shows that most adults and children do not have the information and media literacy skills necessary to identify fake news.  

A 2018 study by Okoro et al. found that people can identify fake news correctly only 54% of the time, which is only 4% better than guessing.  

In 2016, the Stanford History Education Group study of more than 7,000 middle school, high school, and college students found that:

  • 70% of high school students rated an advertisement with statistics as more reliable than a traditional news story
  • over 80% of middle school students did not identify a story labeled "Sponsored Content" as an advertisement
  • when evaluating the credibility of a website, most first year college students focused on appearance and superficial aspects rather than on the validity of the content


Learn more about the need for media literacy skills:

CrashCourse. (2019, January 8). Introduction to Crash Course Navigating Digital Information #1.  [Video]. YouTube.