Media & Entertainment

Rolling in the Deep (Fake) Video: Americans Believe What They See, Not What You See

Image Credit: Photo by tyler hendy from Pexels

When it comes to believing what we’re seeing, there is a profound – and potentially grave – disconnect among Americans.

Simply put, Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about fake video content, but at the same time, are overwhelmingly convinced most of the video content they personally view is right as rain.

Let’s start with deepfake video. These are computer-generated videos that can accurately simulate people doing and saying things they haven’t. Most Americans are concerned by these videos as a notion.

Keeping it broad, below are the charts showing concern about the idea of any type of fake video content. More than a third of Americans are “very concerned,” and two out of five are at least “somewhat concerned.” Similar numbers to above.

Taken as a whole, 75% of Americans have at least some concern about fake videos.

But here’s the disconnect. While only 8% of Americans are very confident online videos are always real, 56% are somewhat confident. 

Taken together, an alarming picture emerges, with 64% of Americans having confidence everything they see online is real, but 75% of Americans being concerned about fake video content. Clearly, Americans are concerned about fake video, but confident in their own abilities to suss it out. 

The breakdowns paint a similar picture. People who follow politics are about 50% more likely to be concerned about fake video content than people who don’t follow politics, but are only about 18% more likely to believe the content they see is real compared to people who don’t follow politics. 

Age matters in these questions, but again, it’s almost shocking to see the differences in concern and confidence. Take Generation Z, for example. Along with the 55+ cohort, they are most concerned about fake video content, with 78% of respondents having at least some concern.

But while 78% of Generation Z is concerned about fake videos, nearly the same percentage is confident the video content they personally view is real. Interestingly, the 55+ crowd is either more cynical or less confident in their ability to determine what’s real, with a comparatively paltry 57% having confidence in the veracity of video content.

Interestingly, level of education does not play a significant role in confidence or concern.

But here’s something that does: How Americans get their cable news. CNN viewers are the most concerned about fake videos. But …

… along with MSNBC viewers, are also the most confident the videos they see are real. Fox News viewers, on the other hand, were one of the least likely subsets of Amercians to have confidence in the videos they see online.

Looking ahead, Americans’ concern over fake video seems certain to grow. For instance, when asked specifically about fake videos in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, 90% of Americans were at least somewhat concerned, with more than half claiming to be very concerned.

Overall, Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about fake video content, and it appears that concern will only grow. But with a near-similarly overwhelming belief that everything they see passes the smell test, it’s clear there is plenty of room for bad actors to pull the wool over the eyes of America.

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