Fake News, Social Media, and Millennials

Open Access
Cilea, Gabrielle Leigh
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Russell Frank, Thesis Supervisor
  • Russell Frank, Honors Advisor
  • Matthew Frank Jordan, Faculty Reader
  • fake news
  • millennials
  • social media
The term “fake news” dominated the media in 2017 as Collins Dictionary Word of the Year. Donald Trump insists that the mainstream media is creating information and pushing it to the public in an effort to sway their opinions on policy. With this growing sense of confusion, the public is tricked by professional “fake news writers,” who push clickbait stories in order to make a profit. In a more simple time of media literacy, one in which most individuals consumed their information through print, radio, or television sources, weeding out nonsense stories was easy. Web-based news has created a space for chaos and confusion among readers who do not know how to interpret journalistic value. This paper will evaluate the combination of reasons as to why millennials (specifically ages 18-29) are the most susceptible to believing fake news on the internet and draw conclusions from a study of Penn State students evaluating a fake news story. Finally, this paper will identify ways to fact-check and understand how social media is combatting this problem.