Facebook is platform with biggest fake news problem, survey respondents say

Platform cited by 80% of those surveyed as having problem with disinformation

Facebook was the medium most regularly accessed for information, being cited by 68 per cent of respondents. Photograph: iStock

Facebook was the medium most regularly accessed for information, being cited by 68 per cent of respondents. Photograph: iStock

 

Facebook is the platform with the biggest problem when it comes to disinformation and fake news, a European Union-wide survey has found, but it is also the platform identified by respondents as the one they most often use.

The survey was conducted as part of a new project involving seven European civil society organisations – including the Irish group Tasc – that aims to counter Euroskepticism and the creation of distrust by way of disinformation.

The survey found that 55 per cent of respondents had voted in the most recent European Parliament elections, and that a similar percentage felt that the impact of the EU had been positive.

Only eight per cent of respondents felt the union had had a negative impact, with 25 per cent feeling its impact had been both positive and negative.

Facebook was the medium most regularly accessed for information, being cited by 68 per cent of respondents to a question that allowed for the identification of multiple platforms.

Digital newspapers were second (67 per cent), followed by television (61 per cent), Instagram (60 per cent), and YouTube (56 per cent).

Print newspapers and Snapchat came in at 11 per cent, and other forums such as Reddit, at 8 per cent.

When asked what platforms they believed had a problem with disinformation, Facebook, at more than 80 per cent, came substantially ahead of Instagram and Twitter, both at slightly more than 50 per cent.

Next came television, digital newspapers, YouTube, TikTok and online blogs, all of which were in the 40 to 50 per cent range.

Almost sixty per cent of respondents felt that the EU is under threat, with 20 per cent feeling it wasn’t, and a similar figure saying they didn’t know.

Nationalism and detachment from European institutions was identified by almost 30 per cent as the biggest threat, with slightly less than ten per cent identifying immigration.

During a presentation in Dublin on Thursday, representatives from groups in Italy and Greece noted that in their countries only eight per cent and five per cent, respectively, of respondents cited immigration as the main danger facing the EU.

Across all countries, 73 per cent of respondents said they felt privileged to be a citizen of the union.

The survey had 989 respondents, was conducted online, and was “distributed” through the civil societies involved in the EU-funded CommEUnication – Youth Engagement for Communicating the EU.

The average survey respondent was 26 years old, and the education level of those who responded was very high – 40 per cent had a bachelor’s degree or diploma, 28 per cent had a master’s degree, and 25 per cent were in university, the Dublin presentation heard.