Exposure and responses to made-up news in the UK
Although news audiences in the UK rarely encounter news stories that are 'completely made up for political or commercial reasons' the majority are alarmed by the existence of such stories. While just 15% say they saw this type of disinformation in the previous week, 59% say they are 'very or extremely concerned' about it.
These findings, from the Reuters Institute's 2018 Digital News Report, shed light on a report released today by the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport Committee on 'Disinformation and "fake news"'. The committee's report examines the role of tech companies in political life and makes a number of recommendations including the creation of a compulsory code of ethics, and an obligation for social media companies 'to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation'. Other key recommendations include giving the regulator powers to launch legal action against companies breaching code and a reform of current electoral communications laws and rules on overseas involvement in UK elections.
According to the Digital News Report, there is a large 'discrepancy between concern and experience' among UK news audiences. While a majority of those surveyed (55%) reported feeling 'very or extremely concerned' with the spinning of facts to suit a particular agenda, only 34% said they had had an experience with that type of story in the previous week.
Just over half (51%) said they were 'very or extremely concerned' over poor journalism in the form of mistakes, misleading headlines and clickbait, yet only a third of respondents said they had seen examples of these in the previous seven days.
The 2019 Digital News Report will be published in June.