Majority says misinformation increases hate crimes, extreme views: poll

The majority of Americans say misinformation is a major problem that leads to an increase in hate crimes and extreme political views, according to a survey released Thursday. 

Seventy-four percent of surveyed Americans said they view misinformation as a major problem, and an additional 16 percent see it as a minor one, according to the Pearson Institute/AP-NORC poll.

The majority of Americans of both parties said that misinformation raises extreme political views and behaviors. 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans, including 85 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans, said that it increases hate crimes, and 73 percent said that it fuels extreme political views, including 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans, according to the poll. 

Half of those surveyed said misinformation decreases trust in the government. 

“The public continues to see misinformation as a significant problem that is impacting them personally,” Sheila Kohanteb, forum executive director at the Pearson Institute for Study and Resolution of Global Conflict, said in a release. “Many are also worried about the impact on democracy including the ways misinformation fuel hate crimes and extreme political beliefs.”

Some Americans reported engaging in behaviors to avoid consuming or spreading misinformation. For example, 76 percent said they decide not to share news content on social media most or some of the time, and 80 percent said they check multiple sources, based on the poll. 

The poll was conducted between Sept. 9 and 12 among 1,003 respondents. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.