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It is not lack of digital literacy that make older citizen share fake news

"Why should I fact-check the news? It's not true anyway."

Older adults read, share, or believe misinformation at higher rates than younger audiences. The explanation behind this behaviour has often been given to either cognitive issues or digital literacy. But new research by Imani Munyaka, PhD, Eszter Hargittai and Elissa Redmiles. published in the Journal of Online Trust and Safety has tried to better understand older adults' engagement with misinformation by interviewing adults from the US, the Netherlands, Bosnia, and Turkey, who are 59+ years old.

They find that people who have decades of potential exposure or experience with both online and traditional news media have reached a state of media cynicism in which they distrust most, or even all, of the news they receive. Yet, despite this media cynicism, older adults continue to read and share news to a high degree, and they rarely fact-check the media they consume.

If they decide to fact-check content, older adults do that by checking other sources (so-called triangulation) in the same way as younger adults. But it seems like the media cynicism makes them less motivated to fact-check the content in the first place.

This paradoxical reaction to media cynicism is quite different to prior explanations, such as cognitive issues and digital literacy, as to why older adults share misinformation to a higher degree. And this finding suggests we might need efforts to reduce older adults' engagement with misinformation that are not purely educational since reading and sharing misinformation can cause irreversible harm and negatively impact news consumers' ability to discern false information.

Read the full article here.