1 Bit Foundation (SPAIN)
2 Balearic Islands University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Page: 9427
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1971
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
If before the coronavirus pandemic the so-called 'fake news' were recognized as a growing social problem (McIntyre, 2018), the global health crisis has revealed the severity of the phenomenon at a time when access to truthful information can reach to condition one's life. Referring to this question, some authors have spoken of "infodemic" (Wagner, 2020) as a metaphor to refer to the dangers that misinformation can bring in times of obvious uncertainty such as those we live in. It is, clearly, a situation that affects both our individual rights as citizens -as the difficulties of access to truthful information limit our autonomy and decision-making capacity- and society as a whole -since freedom Information is essential for the proper functioning of democratic systems.

In this research we have investigated the following questions: Are university students capable of discerning the veracity of the information that reaches them? How and to what extent are information consumption habits related to the previous variable? Do they know instruments such as fact-checkers to identify fake news, or do they build their own tools?

To do this, we have investigated at a quantitative level, using questionnaires inspired by other similar investigations that also include a rapid test for the recognition of true and false news (Leeder, 2019; Yung, 2019; Kiernan, 2017), but in which other variables that we have introduced and considered relevant such as the level of confidence of the different sources of information and the level of knowledge of the fact-checkers.

The study sample is made up of 830 students from the Universitat de les Illes Balears out of a total of 10,714 students in the 2019-2020 academic year, which represents a margin of error of +/- 3.27% and a confidence level of 95%. Regarding the characteristics of the participants, 68.3% are women, 13.6% are foreigners, and the mean age is 21.97 (median = 20; mode = 18; SD = 5,929).

The results of this article indicate that the profile of university students who best recognize fake and real news presents the following characteristics: at the sociodemographic level, they are associated with being a man, over 22 years old and more on the left than on the right political tendency. Regarding their relationship with information and news, they would be quantitatively more informed since they consult news (regional, national and international) more frequently. Regarding trust in the sources through which they receive information, the data suggests that they have less trust in sources that a priori would have lower reliability such as messaging apps, blogs and internet forums. When sifting news or false information, they give more importance to criteria such as the sources of communication, rigor and authorship.

This paper is part of the research collaboration agreement between the Balearic Islands University and the Bit Foundation
Information literacy, fake news, critical thinking, undergraduate students.