Only 14% of internet users have never fallen for fake news

Posted on June 12, 2019


Fake online news is duping the vast majority of us, with 86% of global internet users admitting they have fallen for it at least once, and nearly half (44%) saying they do so “sometimes” or “frequently”.

This is one of several findings from the newly published CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, which analyses a variety of concerns and issues connected to 2019 internet use, ranging from privacy to cryptocurrencies. More than 25,000 people were asked for responses to a range of internet-related questions, with Great Britain among the 25 countries represented among the participants.

The section on fake news is arguably the most eye-opening part of the report, with most social media users saying they are encountering fake news. Facebook appears to be leading the misdirection game, with 77% of its users claiming to have seen fake stories there. This is slightly higher than the 74% figure for social media in general, and some way ahead of Twitter’s 62%. A fifth (20%) say fake news is leading them to use social media less, and in around one in 10 cases, Twitter (10%) and Facebook (9%) users have become so fed up of the problem, it has caused them to close their account.

Most social media users believe the United States is chiefly responsible for fake news, with 35% blaming the US compared to 12% for Russia and 9% in China. In fact, more than half of Americans (57%) believe their own country is the main culprit, but interestingly, more Brits point to Russia (40%) than the US (33%).

Overall though, while social media companies were blamed by 75% for raising distrust on the internet, the main source was cybercriminals, cited by 81%. Nearly two thirds (62%) are concerned about online security, which is significantly up from the 48% figure recorded last year.

The positive aspect of the study is that increased awareness of security and fake news issues is leading internet users to behave more responsibly online. Over half (53%) say they have more concerns about online privacy than they did a year ago, and just under half (49%) are now disclosing less information about themselves online.

These figures suggest that some degree of distrust in the internet, and their government’s role in it (70% of Brits think our own government is at least somewhat contributing to online distrust) can be healthy and lead people to take steps to protect themselves. Overall though, it seems that social media companies have some way to go to convince users around the world that they are really on their side.

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