University students engagement with fake news: the portuguese case

Patrícia Silveira, Sara Gancho


The development of technological and communication platforms generates academic, political and social debates. In the field of Media Studies, there is a special concern with the younger generations, as studies document that they express particular behaviors due to the increased diffusion of digital consumption in their lives (Silveira & Amaral, 2018). In the field of media literacy, news literacy becomes even more relevant today due to the rise of fake news, which is one of the biggest challenges for digital journalism today, because it endangers the truth and instigates misinformation, which could have serious repercussions for society in general and for the youngest more susceptible generations, in particular. Based on these assumptions, this article comprehends and analyses the dynamics of reception of news and social media by university students studying in Portugal, specifically in the Faculty of Design, Technology and Communication – European Unievrsity of Lisbon (in the academic year 2018/2019), located in Lisbon. Through the development of a qualitative methodology, we set to find the participants particular uses of social media for news access and consumption. We intend to define these audiences preference profiles, identify practices, analyse their relationship with the media and find patterns in their use of technology to access information and fake news. The results allow us to conclude that these audiences get their news almost exclusively through online platforms. Some of them distinguish fake news due to format and content, while others share them unknowingly. They seem to rely more on newspaper and TV for reliable sources of information and think that most of fake news are found online. All seem to think that the proliferation of fake news is discrediting journalism and the media in general and both media and citizens should strive to make news literacy a reality for all.

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