Americans say they’re overwhelmed by the flood of news on the internet. And that’s causing some people — especially conservatives — to tune much of it out.
Gallup and the Knight Foundation published the results of a 20,000-person survey Tuesday on Americans’ attitudes toward the media and its impact on democracy.
Americans’ trust in the news splits along party lines. Overwhelmingly, people who identify as “very conservative” or “Republican” mistrust the media.
There’s one thing a majority of people have in common: they’re totally overwhelmed by the “volume and speed” of news.
According to the survey, 62 percent of Americans say it is harder “to be well-informed because of all the sources of information available.” That means a majority of Americans feel too much news is more confusing than educational.
The sentiment is up from 58 percent who held that view in 2017. In contrast, 36 percent of Americans today say it is “easier” to stay informed with so many sources of news.
The reasons respondents gave for feeling overwhelmed are revealing. A main culprit is social media: 43 percent of respondents said that the fact that news and “non-news” are mixed together in the same feed contribute to confusion.
So how do we cope? That overwhelming feeling causes many Americans, and conservatives in particular, to put on blinders, either turning to one or two sources, or tuning out altogether.
“Much of how Americans view the news media is a reflection and result of our divided and partisan society,” the report reads. “Feeling overwhelmed and overburdened by the sheer volume and speed of news, Americans — and in particular, Republicans — are more likely to turn to one or two sources.”
Americans lay the blame for the “non-news” in their feeds on social media companies. This year, 78 percent of people said the “spread of inaccurate information on the internet” is a “major problem,” up from 73 percent in 2017. They are looking to internet companies for solutions.
“More than 7 in 10 Americans say major internet companies should focus on finding ways to control the spread of false information or hateful expression on their sites or apps,” the report reads. “This compares to a quarter of Americans who say these companies should emphasize promoting free expression and lack of censorship.”
Republicans say Americans wants social media companies to stop “censoring” feeds. But apparently, most want social media companies to get a handle on their fake news problems instead. Those problems, by the way, are still rampant. No wonder Americans are so confused.