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Evidence Base

“I sometimes have doubts about the news on Facebook”: Adolescents’ encounters with fake news on the internet


adolescents Belgium fake news online survey qualitative content analysis

Publication details

Year: 2020
DOI: https://doi/org/10.7454/jki.v9i2.12764
Issued: 2020
Language: English
Volume: 9
Issue: 2
Start Page: 64
End Page: 70
Authors: Joyce Vissenberg ; D'Haenens L.
Type: Journal article
Journal: Jurnal Komunikasi Indonesia
Topics: Literacy and skills; Content-related issues
Sample: 214 Flemish youths between the ages of 15 and 19 years old (59 boys and 155 girls)


Fake news is increasingly present on the internet and on social media, and youths, who mainly follow the news on these platforms, are at risk of being misinformed and deceived. This study aims to serve as an important knowledge base about adolescents’ definitions of, experiences with, and opinions about fake news on the internet. A qualitative content analysis of open-ended survey responses regarding experiences with fake news online among 214 Flemish youths (aged 15 to 19) provides insight into the sources of fake news, the topics covered in fake news, and the characteristics of fake news according to these youths. This study contributes to the field by giving insight into adolescents’ experiences with fake news and serves as an important base for further research into youths and fake news on the internet.


"Most mentioned as sources of fake news by the adolescents in this study are social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram). News on these social media is seen as undifferentiated and short-sighted. Some mentioned the popular Flemish press source (HLN) although leader on the news market in Flanders. One of the most striking clues showing that an article was fake news is the language that is used in the news story. Writing style in general and spelling errors in particular revealed that a news story potentially was less credible. Fake news articles can be recognized by the degree of sensation and shock. They found that less credible articles contain clickbait titles and often cover unrealistic events. Youth distinguish two main topics of fake news: news about celebrities and news about national affairs. It might reveal that an article contains fake news, such as a sensational tone or politically biased information. They also reported having more doubts about the credibility when the news moved further away from their daily environment, such as coverage about international conflicts or foreign politics." (Vissenberg & d’Haenens, 2020, pp. 67-69)

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