19+ Verified Mind-Blowing Fake News Stats
Updated · Oct 31, 2022
Fake news didn’t enter the scene with the 2016 US election or COVID-19. These recent events just underlined how serious the issue is.
But the spread of misinformation has changed over the course of history and flourished with the rising internet usage.
The list of fake news stats below reveals what role they play in different political, economic, and social situations.
Read on to see where they’re spread and how to recognize and avoid them.
Verified Fake News Facts (Editor's Choice):
- In 2016, fake news stories on Facebook reached 200 million engagements.
- Political fake news posts on the platform received 1.8 billion engagements in Q3 2020, prior to the presidential elections.
- 45% of UK adults claim they encounter fake news every day.
- In comparison, 67% of US internet users report seeing fake news.
- 73% of US users consider fake news a big issue.
- 6.6% of Americans are not confident in their ability to detect fake info.
- Only 38% of Americans trust local news organizations.
Fake News in Social Media 2022
Social media is possibly the easiest way to spread fake news.
The social media misinformation statistics below show how widespread these are.
1. 40% of US social media users report sharing fake news.
Of course, most people do this by accident. After all, the idea behind fake news is to keep a semblance of truthfulness.
The internet is a great place for learning, but content of dubious quality can spread like wildfire.
2. 80% of the US audience has encountered fake news on Coronavirus.
Fake news on social media can have grave consequences. The most recent example is the spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19.
A 2020 study showed that 80% of the surveyed US citizens had seen at least some made-up news about the Coronavirus.
Those numbers were slightly higher for Republicans. Only 16% of them claimed they hadn’t come across any misinformation about the pandemic.
3. 39.3% of Americans are very confident they can detect fake news.
US misinformation statistics show that 54% of people are “somewhat confident” in their ability to recognize fake news on the internet. Just 6.6% are not confident at all.
Of course, this is self-report data, which means the results depend on the individual’s perception and confidence in judgments.
Which Social Media Platform Has The Most Fake News?
Fake news finds its way to practically all social media platforms.
But where is it the most predominant?
4. Facebook is the main spreader of fake news facts in the 2016 US election.
(Source: Nature Human Behaviour)
A study published by Nature Human Behaviour shows that Facebook was responsible for 15% of the referrals to fake news sites.
In comparison, the platform accounted for just 5.9% of traffic on credible, “hard news” sites.
This beats Webmail, Google, and Twitter, which account for 9.5%, 3.3%, and 1% of fake news traffic, respectively.
Fake News on Facebook—Stats and Numbers
Since it’s the number one distributor of misinformation, let’s start our search for fake news on Facebook.
5. Fake news on Facebook reached record engagement during the 2016 US election.
(Source: About FB)
Social media has been used as a political tool for years now. Fake news statistics show that Facebook boasted around 200 million engagements per month at the end of 2016.
And while the platform has taken some measures against misinformation since then, the spread of fake news hasn’t stopped.
6. Right-wing websites spreading fake news receive 68% of Facebook users’ engagement.
(Source: Washington Post)
It’s hard to calculate exactly how much news on Facebook is fake, but we do know that it is disproportionately distributed.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the platform favors misinformation. But fake news posts tend to receive more engagement, so they spread more quickly.
In addition, a study reported by the Washington Post found that far-right and far-left websites are more likely to share misinformation than those with less extreme ideologies.
According to the researchers, right-wing platforms spread more fake news than those on the far left. As such, Facebook algorithms favor them.
Twitter Fake News—Disinformation Galore
Twitter is just as important on the political debates scene as Facebook.
Let’s find out more about the fake news, accounts, and malicious bots on the platform.
7. On Twitter, fake news is 70% more likely to be retweeted than truthful news.
Although statistics on fake news are clear—Facebook is the absolute “winner,” we shouldn’t underestimate the influence of Twitter.
This points to a basic human trait. Fake news is often scandalous, catchy, and often easier to digest than uncomfortable truths.
And while many blame bots for the spread of misinformation, research shows that humans are the main culprit.
8. 80% to 90% of fake news on Twitter comes from tenths of 1% of users.
Numerous political figures use the platform to boost their campaigns, and users share their views and opinions on politics.
As a result, misinformation spreads at the speed of light. Fake news stats show that Republicans and older people are most likely to share them.
9. The average age of people spreading misinformation on Twitter is 59.
It appears that older people tend to share more fake news on Twitter. The numbers are slightly bigger for women than men.
This data is from a 2020 study about COVID-19-related tweets.
10. According to Twitter, less than 5% of their “monetizable” accounts are false or spam.
(Source: The Conversation)
Many question this estimate of fake Twitter users, including Elon Musk. In fact, that is allegedly the main reason why he initially called off the deal to buy the company.
It’s hard to calculate the exact number of bots on the platform, given that it has 322 million monthly active users.
On top of that, there are fake accounts, spammers, bots—which exactly should we count? Then comes the challenge of identifying the fakes and counting them.
It’s an impossible task for external researchers, but even Twitter itself struggles with it.
TikTok Fake News—Quick to Mislead
TikTok may be new to the scene, but it already does its part in misinformation:
11. It takes up to 40 minutes of scrolling on TikTok for new accounts to start encountering fake news about the Ukraine war.
(Source: The Guardian)
A recent study investigated how false information on the Ukraine war spreads on TikTok.
The fake news stats show that after just 40 minutes of scrolling, propaganda starts appearing from both sides, whether it’s the Ghost of Kyiv or bioweapons.
According to the researchers, the content consisted of both accurate and fake information.
12. 89 million videos were removed from TikTok in the second half of 2020.
(Source: The Butler Collegian)
This is the official data reported in TikTok’s 2021 Transparency report. Note that this is the number of videos removed for violating community guidelines in general.
The ones taken down for spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 and the 2020 election are fewer, but the exact numbers are unknown.
Fake Posts on Instagram—Twisted Advertisement
Instagram isn’t as big on the fake news scene as Facebook or Twitter.
The biggest issues there are targeted advertising and fake followers.
13. Instagram has around 95 million fake accounts.
That’s a huge portion of the overall 1.074 billion monthly active users.
Even among the top 100 Instagram celebrities’ accounts, fake followers make up almost half of the overall count.
Estimates show that brands lost around $1.3 billion in 2019 alone to financing influencers who had fewer real fans than it appeared.
Why Is Fake News A Problem
Fake news and profiles are a big problem for several reasons.
The biggest one is that “facts” that are not true spread easily and often obscure the truth in doing so..
But that’s not all.
14. Fake news brings big money.
(Source: Campaign for Accountability)
Disinformation is becoming a booming industry. Here’s why:
- Misleading and fake info is often catchy and scandalous, which makes it memorable.
- Ads are placed on websites with a lot of traffic.
- It generates profit.
Let’s take, for example, Google.
A survey of 1,255 partisan websites revealed that the 15% that use Google’s anonymization feature are eight times more profitable than non-anonymized platforms. In fact, those 15% generated 60% of the total ad revenue of the sample.
Granted, not all websites that use the anonymity feature are fake news publisher, but a significant proportion of them is.
15. 80.8% of fake news sites have business relations with Google.
Further, fake news stats show that 49% have a direct business relationship with Index Exchange and 52.5% with Xandr (formerly known as Appnexus).
That means those websites have passed the ad networks’ review processes. They have been approved even though they distribute misinformation.
16. Almost 40% of fake news websites show entertainment ads.
These are related to TV and movie programs and news about celebrities. In contrast, legitimate news websites have only around 10% entertainment ads.
How Much of all News Is Fake?
A significant proportion of everything you see on the internet is false information.
But how much exactly?
17. Over 40% of web traffic is fake, according to New York Magazine.
(Source: New York Magazine)
Bots are commonly used in political campaigns and by influencers to boost their popularity.
They artificially inflate the viewing time and lead to overestimating the effectiveness of ads placed on platforms like Facebook.
The so-called “social bots” engage in discussions on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. While that isn’t necessarily fake news, it may influence people’s opinions on various matters.
Misleading Statistics in Media 2022
Internet fake news inevitably spills into traditional media and advertisements.
Let’s see some of the most notable, hilarious, or plain dumbfounding examples.
18. Duracell falsely claimed that its batteries last up to six times longer than other brands.
In a TV commercial, Duracell claimed its batteries could power a bunny toy for six times longer than other batteries.
But when people tested the product, they found that the duration did not differ one bit. As a result, a federal class action lawsuit was filed against the company in 2012.
19. Media often manipulates the starting points of graphs.
(Source: Statistics How To)
Statistics causing misinformation are everywhere, even on respected media channels.
For instance, US Today published a graph showing the number of Americans receiving federal welfare between 2009 and 2011.
By looking at the graph, the difference appears to be drastic. That said, the starting point is 94 million, and the endpoint (2011 stats) is 108 million.
Had the scale been absolute, from zero upwards, the difference between 2009 and 2011 would look much smaller.
How Not to Fall Victim to Misleading Statistics?
- Check the publisher—In the list of fake news stats above, we showed several examples of fake news outlets advertised on renowned ad networks. So, it doesn’t matter where the source appears. You need to check its legitimacy.
- Check the scales—Scale manipulation can warp real data and give off a completely different impression.
- Check the motivation for publishing—What’s the bottom line? Does the publisher have a relation to the group whose interests are supported by the information?
- Look for the sources—Not all sources are reliable, but when there’s no source mentioned at all, it looks suspicious. Legitimate media outlets usually point to the primary source of information. If you can’t find the original data, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon misleading statistics and fake news.
Whether it’s created out of thin air or twisting legitimate information, fake news often spread like wildfire.
The fake news stats above reveal their impact and how to recognize and avoid misinformation.
Hopefully, next time you’ll read the news with a critical eye.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.