The survey of 2,200 Americans, conducted March 25-27, 2020 by Morning Consult, asked about the prevalence of disinformation in the U.S., the parties most responsible for sharing disinformation, the level of trust the American public has for different information sources, and whose job it is to combat disinformation. New in the 2020 report are questions about why people do or do not share certain content on social media, media consumption habits, and the perceived impact of disinformation on society and the election process.
Some of the key findings include:
Disinformation is a significant problem compared to other societal issues:
The two most significant problems in 2020 according to Americans are infectious disease outbreaks (74%) and healthcare costs (72%). While more than half of Americans see misinformation and disinformation as “major problems” in the U.S., the public’s level of concern declined from 2019 to 2020. Sixty-one percent are concerned about misinformation (down from 65% in 2019) and 58% are concerned about disinformation (down from 63%). Nevertheless, misinformation and disinformation are deemed to be major problems more frequently than illegal drug use or abuse (55%), crime (55%), gun violence (54%), and political partisanship (53%).
Americans believe disinformation undermines the election process:
84% of respondents said disinformation was a problem. Seventy-two percent believe disinformation is a threat to democracy, and 69% say it undermines the election process. Only six percent or fewer disagree with these statements.
Republicans and Democrats differ widely about the trustworthiness of news sources and various groups with one exception.
Local news sources (broadcast and newspapers) are one of the least polarizing sources for information. Overall, 70% of overall respondents say they have at least “some trust” in local broadcast TV news and 60% trust local newspapers.
Disinformation has changed Americans news consumption.
A surprising 31% claim they avoid watching or listening to the news because of the amount of disinformation. Additionally, 24% say they are more likely to read sources outside the U.S. because of the amount of disinformation in the U.S.
For a detailed analysis and to read all the 12 key findings, please download our report.
Click here to read a letter to the reader, written by Dr. Tina McCorkindale, IPR President and CEO, and Steve Cody, IPR Chair and founder of Peppercomm, about why researching disinformation is important.
This poll was conducted between March 25-27, 2020, by Morning Consult among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
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Institute for Public Relations
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