Are You Being 'Duped' By Fake News?

Do you know how to tell the real news from the fake?

Most students can’t, according to a recent study at Stanford University.

Researchers spent more than a year assessing how well students across the country can evaluate information from sources online. The results, they said, indicate that most young adults today are being “duped” by fake news.

"In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students' lack of preparation," the authors wrote in their research summary.

In the study, more than 7,800 middle school, high school and college students were asked to decide if information presented in tweets, photographs and articles were credible. 

At the middle school level, researchers found that nearly 80 percent of students could not tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story. At the high school level, the majority of students in the study accepted an unverified photograph as factual.

College students weren’t any better.

Researchers sent undergraduate students a link to a tweet by MoveOn about gun owners' feelings on background checks, which referenced a survey by Public Policy Polling.

But when students were asked to evaluate the tweet and determine if it was a good source of information, more than half didn't even click on the link inside the tweet before gaging its usefulness. Additionally, less than a third of students cited the political agenda of MoveOn.org as a reason it might influence the tweet’s content.

"In 2016, we would hope college students, who spend hours each day online, would look beyond a .org URL and ask who’s behind a site that presents only one side of a contentious issue,” researchers wrote.

Many websites, including Google and Facebook, are taking steps to prevent fake news from using their advertising platforms, but that doesn’t mean misinformation will disappear from the Internet.

This fake news story recently made its way around social media, gaining popularity on Twitter:

Others have been in recent years, as well;

Although President Obama expressed concerns about democracy as a result of growing fake news, what will young people do to determine what’s credible and what isn’t?