Polis Survey on Fake News
23 Mar 2023
A key part of the Polis Analysis mission is to tackle fake news and online misinformation. Last year, Polis has made meaningful progress in our campaign to raise awareness of fake news and deliver solutions to address the problem. Online misinformation poses a threat to democracy and young people are particularly exposed given Facebook and Instagram are the most important news sources for 16-24 year olds according to Ofcom. We will continue to build on the progress we have made and campaign for greater action to be taken to combat online misinformation in 2023.
Polis research findings
Polis Analysis has been researching the issue of online misinformation and we have produced our own research findings into the attitudes of young people towards fake news. Below are the key Polis research findings based on surveys conducted with hundreds of young people in their twenties across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
88.4% of people have felt at risk to or have fallen victim to fake news.
100% of respondents believe fake news has a detrimental impact on society.
74% of people believe fake news should be a priority for governments.
Our findings highlight the scale of the risk online misinformation poses as well as public support for action to be taken. Our research finds that public attitudes vary depending on the type of action proposed to combat online misinformation. Respondents ranked various options to tackle misinformation with the 10-score representing full support for a measure and 0 representing no support.
Using legislation including expanding the scope of the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill to compel social media companies and online search engines to remove online misinformation from their platforms: 7.9/10.
Harsher action taken against social media platforms for hosting misinformation in the form of fines to incentivise social media companies to address the issue: 6.2/10.
Teaching about the dangers of online misinformation, how to spot it and how to report it in schools to increase the media literacy of school children: 8.2/10.
Community workshops and citizen led programmes where older generations are taught how to identify online misinformation through increased digital literacy: 6/10.
Custodial sentences for those responsible for creating and distributing misinformation on social media platforms: 4.5/10.
Based on our research findings, Polis Analysis will continue to champion a two-pronged approach to tackling online misinformation by combining top-down legislative action with a bottom-up approach focussed on improving digital literacy and critical thinking skills.
Raising awareness and driving solutions
Polis has continued to raise awareness of the threat posed by fake news and misinformation. We published an article earlier this year on Politics.co.uk setting out why online misinformation is a threat to public health and democracy, as well as calling for the UK Government to take greater action to combat fake news.
The Online Safety Bill is legislation put forward by the Government aimed at protecting people from harmful content online. The Bill is reaching its final stages in Parliament. While we welcome that the Online Safety Bill incorporated some of the action Polis Analysis called for in our submission of evidence to Parliament in 2021, the Bill does not go far enough to tackle misinformation. We are working closely with politicians and organisations who are supporting our cause to change this as needed.
We will continue to campaign for online misinformation to be tackled in 2023, whether through engaging members of Parliament or raising awareness of our research into fake news in the media and at university campuses. Polis will keep you updated on our efforts.
Composition of surveyed: UK, Germany, France, USA, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Philippines.
Mean age: 28, mode 20.
Voting intention of participants: Lab 38%, Con 30%, Lib Dem 14%, Green 5%.