Majority of Irish internet users have seen content they believe to be untrue – CSO

Checking of sources and limiting advertising cookies becoming more common

More than 60% of Irish internet users saw content online that they believed to be untrue or doubtful, new data from the Central Statistics Office has found. File photograph: Getty

More than 60% of Irish internet users saw content online that they believed to be untrue or doubtful, new data from the Central Statistics Office has found. File photograph: Getty

 

More than 60 per cent of Irish internet users saw content online that they believed to be untrue or doubtful, new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has found.

The research indicated internet users are becoming more tuned into safeguards, checking sources for data, restricting access to advertising cookies and blocking sites’ access to geographical location data .

However, less than 40 per cent read the privacy policies to which they were agreeing, and only four in 10 took preventative steps by changing settings in their internet browser to limit cookies.

Sources

The CSO’s Household Internet Security and Information Integrity 2021 survey found of those who had seen content they considered untrue or doubtful, some 64 per cent dug deeper and checked sources and information, or took part in discussions online or offline regarding the content.

In the 30 to 44 age group, almost 97 per cent of those who looked into online content checked sources or found other information on the internet. The 16-29 age group was was slightly lower at 85 per cent.

“In 2021, we are online more than ever, working from home and relying on technology and digital services. Our everyday lives are becoming far more digital and we are exposed to a very large amount of information, some of which is true, some of which is clearly untrue and some of which requires further evaluation and investigation,” said CSO statistician Maureen Delamere.

“For those who did not check the truthfulness of content they saw online, the most common reason [80 per cent] was that they already knew the information content or source was unreliable.”

The information in question includes videos, images and other content on news sites or social media that they considered doubtful or untrue.

The survey found almost three-quarters of internet users knew that cookies can be used to trace their online activity, while 59 per cent restricted access to their geographical location.

Survey

The survey also revealed a gap in how different age groups view privacy online, with 65 per cent of those between 30 and 59 refusing use of their personal data for advertising purposes, compared with just 42 per cent in the 16 to 29 age group.

It also varied depending on the platform, with less than half internet users limiting access to their profile or content on social networking sites.

“Websites that collect personal information require a privacy policy statement, but only 37 per cent of internet users read them before providing personal information online,” Ms Delamere said.

“Similarly, even though everyone has the right to access the digital personal data collected by websites or search engines administrator or providers, just 6 per cent of internet users requested access to their online personal data to update or delete it.”

The publication on Monday is the first of three outlining the results of the Information and Communications Technology Household Survey carried out in the first two quarters of the year. The other two publications will be released in the coming week.