London, June 29: Researchers have found that the "very online" Gen Z and millennials are most vulnerable to fake news by performing the first misinformation susceptibility test (MIST), a new study has shown.

Psychologists from the UK-based University of Cambridge have developed the first validated "misinformation susceptibility test" -- a short quiz that indicates whether you are susceptible to being duped by fabricated news flooding the internet. AI-Generated Content: People More Likely To Believe Tweets Generated by Artificial Intelligence Language Models, Says Study.

The researchers performed a series of experiments involving over 8,000 participants taking place over two years.

The survey used the 20-point test by researchers and developed using an early version of ChatGPT, and has found that -- on average -- adult US citizens correctly classified two-thirds (65 per cent) of headlines they were shown as either real or fake.

However, younger adults were worse than older adults at identifying false headlines, and the more time someone spent online recreationally, the less likely they were to be able to tell real news from misinformation, the study said.

According to researchers, this contradicts popular perceptions of online misinformation spread, which hold that older, less digitally savvy "boomers" are more likely to be duped by fake news.

“Misinformation is one of the biggest challenges facing democracies in the digital age,” said Prof Sander van der Linden, senior author of the MIST study, and head of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab.

“We are seeing how online falsehoods create polarised belief systems in major nations, and the consequences, such as the attempted Capitol Hill insurrection,” he added.

In another survey by the market research company YouGov, about 1,516 adult US citizens took the MIST in April 2023 and also responded to questions covering demographics, politics and online behaviour.

When it came to age, only 11 per cent of 18-29-year-olds got a high score (over 16 headlines correct), while 36 per cent got a low score (10 headlines or under correct).

In contrast, 36 per cent of those 65 or older got a high score, while just 9 per cent of older adults got a low score, the study mentioned. WhatsApp Pink Scam on Rise in India, Mumbai Police Issues Red Alert for Android Users.

The survey also analysed channels through which respondents receive their news in which the “legacy media” came out top. The news audiences most susceptible to misinformation were on social media. About 53 per cent of those who received news from Snapchat received low scores, while only 4 per cent received high scores. Truth Social came in second place, followed by WhatsApp, TikTok, and Instagram, according to the study.

“Younger people increasingly turn to social media to find out about the world, but these channels are awash with misinformation. Approaches to media literacy, as well as algorithms and platform design, require an urgent rethink,” said Dr Rakoen Maertens, MIST lead author.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 30, 2023 08:28 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website