Age Differences in the Spread of Misinformation Online




Misinformation, Social Media, Age, Demographics, Generation, Personalizaiton, Tailoring


Research in the area of misinformation online has identified various factors as the reason why people spread misinformation online such as availability of technology, entertainment, ignorance, to pass time, altruism etc. However, how these factors differ from one age group to another is not known. Research also suggests that people of different generations or age groups behave differently and are influenced differently. While people of each age range will have differences among them, they will likely behave similarly compared to people of other age groups. Therefore, in determining why people spread misinformation online, it is important to investigate any differences based on the age groups of online users. This will ensure that interventions designed to curb the spread of misinformation can be tailored to people based on their age. To contribute to research in the area of determining why people of different age ranges spread misinformation online, we surveyed 113 social media users of varying age groups. Our results show that the younger participants between 18 and 34 years are more likely to spread misinformation due to the availability of technology, entertainment, the need to pass time, the fear of missing out, peer pressure and trust in people online.