Among the poll’s findings: More than 8 in 10 rated the spread of misinformation about government a “major problem.”

The deluge in political misinformation and conspiracy theories has fueled distrust in institutions and threatens to undermine confidence in elections, democracy and the nation itself, according to Cindy Otis, a former CIA officer and now vice president of analysis at Alethea Group, a company that helps combat disinformation.

“We are living today in the biggest period of false information in history, and we Americans are largely doing it to ourselves,” Otis said last week during a hearing focused on election-related misinformation. “Americans are losing trust in what they read and see online. We are desperate for information, but certain groups feel they cannot trust the traditional institutions upon which they used to rely.”

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