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Indians trust YouTube and Whatsapp over the mainstream media: Report

A report emphasising the importance of fact-checking found that 92 per cent of Indians felt confident in their ability to distinguish fact from fiction

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BS Web Team New Delhi
A recent report has revealed that people in India trust YouTube and Whatsapp over the mainstream media when it comes to fact-checking and the spread of information. In the United States and the United Kingdom, while people still largely trust traditional mainstream media, a significant portion of the public has doubts regarding the information shared on all media platforms.

The Global Fact 10 Research report shares insight on the spread of misinformation through its consumer research conducted by Logically Fact, a company that supports social media platforms tackle mis- and disinformation in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

More 6,000 consumers across India, UK, and the US participated in this research sharing their opinion and attitudes towards fact-checking and the spread of information.

Key highlights of the report include:
  • 61 per cent of consumers believe that social media platforms and media organisations should be doing more fact-checking than they currently are today.
  • Elections and other political events are considered to be the highest priority right now when it comes to fact-checking, which is closely followed by areas such as healthcare at 19 per cent, and climate change at 14 per cent.
  • Consumers are also concerned about the impact of GPT tools, with 36 per cent saying they trust these tools to provide accurate and unbiased information with 64 per cent of Indians trusting these tools compared to 27 per cent in the US and 15 per cent in the UK.
  • Of the options given, 47 per cent of respondents believe the most trustworthy approach to fact-checking is using advanced tech alongside human intervention, while 24 per cent believe in using advanced tech with no human intervention and 14 per cent believe in using human expertise with no advanced tech intervention.

Trust in media platforms

A sizable portion of the public (22 per cent) has lost trust in all media sources and those who still trust media are more likely to rely on a combination of social media platforms rather than traditional "mainstream" media.
The study did note that no specific platform emerged as the most trustworthy, with a significant percentage (22.36 per cent) expressing trust in none in particular.

Mainstream media (MSM) (13.73 per cent), YouTube (12.79 per cent), WhatsApp (9.31 per cent), Facebook (9.11 per cent), and search engines (7.85 per cent) were among the platforms mentioned as trusted sources.

Overall, women were found to be more sceptical, with 16.39 per cent trusting mainstream media compared to only 11 per cent of men.

Men had exhibited a higher level of trust in YouTube over mainstream media and were three per cent more likely to trust Facebook than women.

In India, YouTube and WhatsApp were trusted more than mainstream media stated the report findings.

Importance of fact-checking

More than half of the participants expressed a higher likelihood to trust social media platforms that employ fact-checking with only a small portion at eight per cent stating that they did not believe fact-checking should occur on any platform.

Furthermore, the report noted that a staggering 84 per cent of the surveyed individuals reported confidence in their own ability to distinguish fact from fiction on the internet.

Around 30 per cent of all respondents fully trusted their ability to sort fact from fiction, while over 53 per cent expressed "somewhat" trust.

India exhibited the highest confidence level surpassing 92 per cent, followed by the US at more than 83 per cent, and the UK at 74 per cent.

Overall men were five per cent more likely than women to rate themselves as confident in their fact-checking abilities.

Moreover, individuals aged 35-44 years displayed the highest full trust percentage (40 per cent) but dropped lower than other age groups beyond 45.

Awareness of misinformation & disinformation

Nearly 74 per cent of all respondents were familiar with fact-checking as a concept and acknowledged that there was a problem of inaccurate and false information being spread through social and mainstream media networks.

72 per cent of the respondents agreed that society and politics are undermined by such misinformation circulating in media and social channels. Elections and politics were highlighted as the areas where people desired fact-checking to be applied.

Offline harms, encouraging social unrest and protests, were identified as the most common negative impacts of misinformation and disinformation.

Need for fact-checking and content flagging

The survey indicated that 74 per cent of respondents wanted content flagged as misleading or out of context to ensure greater accuracy with 61 per cent believing that media organisations and platforms could do more to verify claims.

Around 66 per cent even expressed a desire for better education on spotting false claims.

Trust in technology for fact-checking

Overall 71 per cent surveyors expressed that they were comfortable with tech-aided fact-checking, including a combination of human intervention and technology.

However, trust levels dropped when respondents were asked to consider AI tools like ChatGPT, with 36 per cent trusting, 25 per cent not trusting, and 39 per cent undecided due to limited experience.

Men exhibited higher trust levels at 41.95 per cent compared to women at 29.36 per cent in AI tools, while more women at 48 per cent appeared to be unfamiliar with such tools.

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First Published: Jun 30 2023 | 7:11 PM IST

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