Study: Duterte fans, folks who trust Facebook for info tend to believe fake news
MANILA, Philippines — It is more likely that young supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, and those who rely on Facebook for news more than the mainstream media, will believe fake news, according to a study conducted by Boses, Opinyon, Siyasat, at Siyensya para sa Pilipinas (Boses Pilipinas).
The findings were based on a working study authored by Boses Pilipinas convenor Dr. Imelda Deinla and three other authors titled “The Link Between Fake News Susceptibility and Political Polarization of the Youth in the Philippines.”
The researchers created a 10-point quiz consisting of 5 false stories on Philippine Cabinet members, with 5 other real stories. Respondents were asked to validate if a particular quote card is true or false.
The majority or 52.5 percent of youth respondents only got six to eight correct answers or an average score of 6.9 in a 10-item fake news quiz.
“Overall, we can conclude based on these figures that our students only have average skills in identifying fake news,” Deinla said in an online press conference on Wednesday.
The survey was conducted from August 23 to September 24 with 20,000 students who are eligible voters as participants.
Deinla said this is already the second round of the surveys, which showed very similar findings to the first round of surveys.
The first round of surveys were conducted from May 17 to June 24 involving 7,744 respondents, according to Deinla.
Duterte supporters more prone to fake news
Results show that respondents who support President Rodrigo Duterte are more likely to believe in fake news and are less likely to believe in real news.
Respondents who support opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo, on the other hand, are more likely to identify real news as real, and fake news as fake, according to researchers.
“We find evidence that partisan supporters of President Duterte are more likely to inaccurately identify fake and real news, compared to partisan supporters of the opposition,” the authors of the study said.
When asked the reason behind the division of respondents between Robredo and Duterte supporters, Deinla said:
“Sila po ang ating ginamit kasi sila naman po talaga yung both of them are the highest officials of our land and they’re also representative of those two oppositions now,” Deinla said.
(We used them because both of them are the highest officials of our land and they’re also representative of those two oppositions now.)
“Naniniwala po kami na yung pagmeasure or yung pagkalkula ng political partisanship o ng polarization is relational. Ibig sabihin there are opposite sides or poles to that, so nakita po natin or yung ginawa po nating proxy or representative po si Pangulong Duterte doon sa kabilang panig at doon naman sa kabilang panig si VP Robredo,” she added.
(We believe that measuring political partisanship and polarization is relational. Meaning, there are opposite sides or poles to that, so we have noticed that we place President Duterte and VP Robredo as proxies of two different sides.)
Deinla also said the finding “is not new.”
“This behavior is likewise observed among the Republican supporters in the United States,” Deinla said.
“It is possible that these ‘partisan’ tendencies to fall for misinformation is a product of the same disinformation networks (i.e. individuals or groups that spread fake news) that both Duterte and Republican supporters are exposed to or because of the possible impact of constant or high exposure to fake news being the new normal, thus to regard facts in a different way,” Deinla added.
Respondents were asked to rate their approval of government officials, including Duterte and Robredo. These approval ratings were used to determine and then calculate the degree of a respondent’s political polarization, a momentary division in support of two political elites.
The political affiliation of respondents was determined using an ordinal scale. The researchers measured a respondent’s approval of Duterte and Robredo’s performance as president and vice president, respectively, with values of 5 from strongly agree to strongly disagree to 1.
More respondents were 23.7 (1,760) “strongly approved” of Duterte’s leadership than Robredo’s at 15.7 percent or 1,165 respondents.
However, more respondents have also “strongly disapproved” of the performance of Duterte at 23.2 percent or 1,724 respondents, compared to 13.3 percent or 987 who “strongly disapproved” of Robredo’s performance.
Mainstream media doubters more prone to fake news
Researchers also observed that those who trust Facebook as a source of information more than mainstream media are more prone to fake news.
“Various studies show that respondents who trust mainstream media are less likely to believe in fake news and engage in conspiratorial thinking. They are predisposed to believe in “official” versions of an event compared to personal or exaggerated accounts online,” Deinla pointed out.
The study said only two percent or 384 respondents find Facebook a very trustworthy source of information. The said respondents only scored 5.7 out of the 10-item fake news quiz.
On the other hand, 26 percent or 6,388 respondents who find Facebook an untrustworthy source of information showed the highest ability to distinguish fake news from real news, with a score of 7.2 out of 10.
Deinla said trust in social media and Facebook are shown to “impair one’s ability to detect misinformation.”
“Users who are predisposed to believe information that mirrors their sentiments are more exposed to misinformation networks online,” Deinla said.
“The Philippine youth are now immersed in an environment, perhaps a culture, of fake news,” she added. “If we want to create a better future for our youth — one who knows the truth, who can judge between right from wrong, who can trust institutions — then we will need a collective effort to overcome this information pandemic.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.