This issue [real news vs. fake news] is illustrated in a new ACT report, Checking What Students Know about Checking the News, by Michelle Croft and Raeal Moore. It’s based on a survey of high schoolers who took the ACT test earlier this year and were asked where they get their news, how accurate they think their sources are, and what steps they take to judge that accuracy.
While more than 90 percent of students reported being aware of traditional news outlets (such as The New York Times) and were in general more aware of these outlets than of nontraditional outlets (such as The Blaze), some of the other survey results are sobering. For example, approximately half of students reported using YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter as a news source—sites that, while they do frequently contain factual information, consist of user-supplied content and do not follow the rigorous fact-checking procedures of traditional news outlets.
And while traditional news outlets received higher ratings for accuracy than nontraditional outlets, approximately half of students identified some of the latter as accurate. Even Infowars—a website routinely called out for containing blatant, even potentially harmful misinformation—was characterized as accurate by 39 percent of the students in our survey who reported being aware of it.
Direct to Full Text Issue Brief (4 pages; PDF)