The American Public Views the Spread of Misinformation as a Major Problem

Ninety-five percent of Americans believe the spread of misinformation is a problem, and most blame social media companies, social media users, and U.S. politicians for its spread, according to a new Pearson Institute/AP-NORC poll.

Ninety-five percent of Americans believe the spread of misinformation is a problem, and most blame social media companies, social media users, and U.S. politicians for its spread, according to a new Pearson Institute/AP-NORC poll.

The survey finds that three-quarters of Americans worry at least somewhat that they have been exposed to misinformation, but only about half are similarly concerned that they’ve spread misinformation, even unintentionally. Younger adults are more likely than older adults to worry that they have spread misinformation.

More Americans say that social media companies, social media users, and U.S. politicians are responsible for spreading misinformation than the U.S. government, Russia, China, Iran, or other foreign governments. Older adults are more likely than younger adults to hold foreign governments responsible, while Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say the U.S. government is responsible (61% vs. 38%).

Most adults report that social media companies, social media users, U.S. politicians, and the U.S. government all bear responsibility for addressing the spread of misinformation.

The nationwide poll was conducted by the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research from September 9-13, 2021, using AmeriSpeak®, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. The nationwide poll was conducted by Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,071 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.9 percentage points. The poll is being released in conjunction with the 2021 Pearson Global Forum, which will address these issues.

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