CivicScience | Severe Concern About COVID-19 Misinformation Has Grown

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Severe Concern About COVID-19 Misinformation Has Grown

Image Credit: Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Americans have been concerned about misinformation surrounding the coronavirus since the beginning. When broken down by level of concern, the data reveal respondents’ strength of concern has grown significantly since our initial survey. U.S. adults reporting they were “very” concerned increased by 25%.

Concern about the larger topic of fake news has also climbed in recent months. Given the busy (to say the least) news cycle that occurred in the month of November, it’s unsurprising to see the trajectory of the chart below.

Uncertainty about COVID misinformation is pervasive enough that even people who aren’t typically concerned with fake news from the media report comparable levels of concern about it.

Taking a broader view of information channels, concern about misinformation seems to come from all over. The data show near-equal levels of concern about COVID misinformation among users of all major social media sites and apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok). Level of concern appears to be most severe among TikTok and Twitter users. 

Hours per day spent on social media didn’t make a difference in overall concern about misinformation, yet again, the longer someone spends on social media each day, the less severely concerned they are about misinformation.

While uncertainty does increase somewhat with age, it is almost evenly split between men and women, and little to no variance was contributed by respondents’ income.

Although, the data starts to shift in a few key areas: how closely someone follows politics, his or her political leaning, and, primarily, their news network of choice. 

Despite skepticism among certain populations, overall, the idea of inaccurate or false information about the virus and its spread is unsettling for most people in the United States. Political views aside, a majority have thought twice about what’s true and what’s not.

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