Instituto Politécnico de Viseu - Escola Superior de Educação (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 356-364
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.0129
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
At present, with the materialization of Marshall McLuhan’s Global Village, emerges an interconnected society in which social media represent an important form of intellectual debate and communicates views on issues of public interest. Each one produces and receives information at the same time and these dynamic exchanges of data help shape public opinion. However, many critics express concern with the rise of fake news that circulates largely through social media. Fake news are persuasive short false stories regarding national and international affairs which can put at the forefront of the discussion facts that are intentionally untrue.

Misinformation in the Internet age is a global problem and exposes the vulnerability not only of individuals but also institutions. Younger users, who are active handlers of social media with intense communication practices, seem vulnerable. Do they believe and share false news stories?

The main objective of this study is to understand how higher education students, who attend media and communication degrees, perceive some aspects related to fake news and disinformation online. Thus, this study aims to identify the perception of undergraduates about their trust in news sources and awareness of fake news and about the impact of fake news and responsibility for addressing the problem. These objectives are based on research already developed by the European Commission which advises about the importance of developing research on this subject.

Informed by focus group discussion and an online survey, this paper presents some of the results of a case study involving students of a social communication degree at a Portuguese higher education institution.

The results emphasize that students are familiar with fake news and what motivates people to create them. They also recognize specific characteristics of this type of news and identify websites that usually publish false stories. Participants reveal that it is in social media that they usually find manipulated news and they also indicate that they trust mostly on news and information from printed media. The results obtained allow us to conclude that the students are aware of the negative impact of the phenomenon and suggest education as the best way to prevent the dissemination of fake news.
Fake news, disinformation, students, higher education, Portugal.