August 11, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2022) – Sixty-two percent of respondents across generations think they see false or misleading information online weekly, according to a new study conducted by the Poynter Institute’s digital media literacy initiative MediaWise and international research data and analytics group YouGov, with support from Google. 

The research shows Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X feel slightly more confident in their ability to verify a post, image or video than Baby Boomers and the Silent generation. More than half of those under 26 are concerned about their family members being exposed to misinformation.

The information literacy study compares how each generation navigates the internet and how they determine whether they can trust or engage with online content. The results represent more than 8,500 people from the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, Nigeria, India and Japan. 

Download “A Global Study on Information Literacy: Understanding generational behaviors and concerns around false and misleading information online”

“The majority of respondents from each generation placed high value on two key factors when deciding if online information is true or false: the source and the facts,” said Alex Mahadevan, director of MediaWise. “That’s a great start. And it’s where MediaWise fits into the global media literacy puzzle: to teach anyone how to investigate the source of a post, photo or video — and evaluate the evidence cited.”

The study also examines each generation’s preferred tools and techniques to verify online content. The analysis — which YouGov performed using online survey data collected this summer and weighted to match real populations — found that Gen Z is more likely to check social media comments and use search engines to fact check than older generations. When using a search engine, Gen Z uses more advanced methods and features such as a reverse image search or a concept called “lateral reading,” which was developed by the Stanford History Education Group and involves opening multiple tabs and performing multiple searches across those tabs to verify information.

“We’re committed to doing our part to help people everywhere find high-quality information and give them the context they need to make informed decisions about what they see online,” said Pandu Nayak, vice president of Search and Google fellow. “In addition to investing in information quality and information literacy tools on Google Search, we’re also investing in partnership initiatives like MediaWise that help educate people of all ages about digital literacy.”

MediaWise’s programs are designed to empower everyone to seek fact-based information from reliable sources. The recently-launched online course and video series Is This Legit? Digital Media Literacy 101 helps college students be more critical news consumers and separate fact from fiction online. MediaWise’s groundbreaking Teen Fact-Checking Network — a digital newsroom of teenagers debunking the posts they see on their own feeds — helps middle and high schoolers use tools and techniques to spot misinformation. And Find Facts Fast is MediaWise’s latest text message-based course that helps anyone, of any age, master the same skills that professional fact-checkers use in their day-to-day work. Programs are also available in multiple languages, including Spanish.

Estas lecciones gratuitas de MediaWise en Español le enseñarán técnicas para identificar información engañosa, falsa y peligrosa y cómo buscar fuentes confiables. Los embajadores de MediaWise en Español, José Díaz-Balart y Julio Vaqueiro, también compartirán consejos como periodistas con años de experiencia.

To help those who are concerned about loved ones believing misinformation online, MediaWise programs teach people how to have open and honest conversations about misinformation with their closest friends and relatives. One of those tactics is speaking from personal experience. Results from the study set a promising stage for younger generations to host those conversations. The data shows Gen Z and Millennials are two times more likely than Baby Boomers and the Silent generation to say they accidentally share false or misleading information because they feel pressure to quickly respond in the moment.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see one-third of those surveyed said they always or most of the time correct someone they know when that person shares misinformation,” Mahadevan said. “These are important conversations, because false or misleading information — especially in the form of scams or health advice — can really harm older adults.”

Results from the survey will help further develop MediaWise’s digital media literacy training and collaborative efforts. With support from Google, MediaWise and its Teen Fact-Checking Network will partner with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs to develop weekly information literacy lesson plans for middle and high school teachers. Lessons will reference real-world examples of misinformation and include video explainers written and produced by MediaWise’s Poynter-trained team of teen fact-checkers. 

“Media literacy is at the front and center of the work we do at PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs,” said Executive Director Leah Clapman. “We are excited to provide middle and high school educators with new lesson plans and creative instruction resources to address disinformation in classrooms and local communities.”

These resources will be available for free to teachers using PBS Learning Media and for download on Content will be developed in the coming months, leveraging Poynter’s expertise in information literacy, MediaWise’s Teen Fact-Checking Network and PBS’ expertise in the education space. 

To learn more about MediaWise and its digital media literacy programs, visit

Media Contact

Tina Dyakon
Director of Marketing
The Poynter Institute

About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media, and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences, and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology, and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters, and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians, and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the U.S. First Amendment, and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. Learn more at

About MediaWise

MediaWise is a social-first digital media literacy initiative of the nonprofit Poynter Institute. The program teaches people of all ages and backgrounds how to responsibly engage with online content in the age of information overload. The fact-checking enterprise was created in 2018 to empower citizens to find trusted sources and make sense of the vast amount of information at their fingertips. We bring simple, yet effective, digital media literacy tools to people where they are — whether they’re on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or TikTok or in one of the five countries where MediaWise operates — and walk them through every step to determine what’s real and what’s not on the internet. Through MediaWise, everyone can do their part to reduce the spread of misinformation and elevate the truth. Follow MediaWise on social media to learn how to debunk viral claims and be more critical consumers of online information. Explore programs and be part of the solution at

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