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Poll: People who rely on social media for news more likely to believe fake stories

Americans who rely on social media as their main source of news are more likely believe false or unproven stories about important topics such as politics and COVID-19, a survey shows.

The Pew Research Center report finds that people who used social platforms for news were less informed about major public affairs topics and more susceptible to believing rumors and hoaxes.

The report comes with social media platforms becoming a growing source of news amid struggles by traditional media in the digital age.

The Pew report finds some 18 percent of respondents in the survey got most of their political and election news via social media.

An iPhone displays the Facebook app, August 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

But those people were less likely to correctly answer fact-based questions about politics and current events than those relying on print, broadcast or news apps.

Social media news consumers were more aware of specific false or unproven stories about the coronavirus and said they had seen more misinformation about the pandemic such as claims that Vitamin C could prevent infection, the survey finds.

On political news, social media users were less informed about facts such as the function of the state-by-state Electoral College votes, which ultimately decide who wins the White House, or the unemployment rate.

The report comes from a series on interviews with some 9,000 US adults from November 2019 through December 2020.

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