Monday October 18, 2021

Interesting statistics about fake news on social media

September 17, 2021
Interesting statistics about fake news on social media

LAHORE: Although governments all over the world, including Pakistan, are struggling to arrest or at least curtail the spread of fake news through social media platforms, the problem is getting worse with every passing day, meaning thereby that the laws enacted to harness these unbridled interactive communication networks are not working.

The term “Fake News” dates from the late 19th Century, when journalists used it to attack their rival newspapers and magazines. However former American president Donald Trump popularized it!

According to an eminent American broadcaster, the NBC News, “falsehoods spread like wildfire on social media, getting quicker and longer-lasting pickup than the truth. This is what M/s “Statista”, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, had observed in its June 16, 2021 report: “Fake news is an insidious and widespread issue in the news industry as a whole and has become a global problem. In the United States, the term and concept grew in popularity during the 2016 election, but has since manifested itself in areas outside the realm of politics. The most recent example of this is the COVID-19 pandemic – almost 80 percent of consumers in the United States reported having seen fake news on the Corona outbreak, highlighting the extent of the issue and the reach fake news can achieve”.

“Statista”, which contains more than 1,000,000 statistics on more than 80,000 topics from more than 22,500 sources and 170 different industries, and generates a revenue of about 60 million Euros, had earlier maintained in its May 28, 2021 report: “When it comes to the spread of fake news, social media is the main culprit. Although social media has been the least trusted news source globally since 2016. A survey held in spring 2020 showed that 60 percent of 16-to 24-year-old population in the UK had recently used social media for information about the coronavirus, and 59 percent had come across fake news on the subject. Some 52% of Americans say they regularly encounter fake news online”.

It added: “Meanwhile, in France, almost 30 percent of 15 to 18-year-olds was using social media as their primary source of coronavirus information, placing news consumers in this age bracket at greater risk of being exposed to misinformation. Either knowingly or unknowingly, many consumers see fake news and pass it on to someone else, putting even the savviest news audiences at risk. Unfortunately, fake news has no ‘quick fix’ and developing an awareness of it and improving one’s ability to identify false information is a must for regular news consumers”.

The “Reuters Institute” had stated: “A recent survey found that a record-high 41% of Americans actively avoid watching or reading the news. Most of them do it to avoid false information, stats reveal. They also say reading the news makes them feel sad and depressed about the current state of the world. Additionally, many say they’ve noticed that the media disproportionately focuses on negative information”.

The Washington DC-based American think-tank “Pew Research Center” says: “According to a 2020 survey, just over half of American adults (53%) get their news from social media. Sadly, not many users have the habit of making an active effort to flag down polarising content. According to some, platforms themselves should encourage such behaviour and raise user immunity through education”.

The “NBC News” revealed: “During the second quarter of 2020, Facebook removed seven million posts that contained fake news. All these posts contained false or unverified information about the then-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so their removal was also a way to prevent this fake info from putting people’s health in danger. During the same period, the social media giant has removed another 22.5 million posts for containing hate speech and 8.7 million for promoting extremist organisations”.

The “German Marshall Fund” another American think-tank, said in a report that during the third quarter of 2020, there were 1.8 billion fake news engagements on Facebook. It held: “Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, falsified information from fake political news sites generated 1.8 billion engagements on Facebook. According to statistics, this is a staggering 242% increase from 500 million engagements just before the 2016 election”.

“The Guardian”, a widely-subscribed British newspaper asserts: “In recent years, we’ve witnessed a massive rise in media exaggeration. There’s this thing called the car accident phenomenon.

Although everyone knows car accidents are disturbing, no one can walk by one without looking at it. For this very reason, about 95% of all news headlines are blown out of proportion”. In one of its reports, the Icelandic Journalists Union reported that a fake news outlet in France generated 11 million interactions monthly.

It asserted: “This was roughly five times more than some of the better-established news brands. On the one hand, this is a clear testament to the reach and influence of fake news websites. On the other hand, false news outlets usually don’t generate as many interactions — even when they have a superior reach”.