Public demands social networks combat ‘fake news’
85% of people agree that social media companies have a responsibility to remove fake news, according to new research by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
The vast majority (79%) of people also believe that social media companies should be monitoring for fake news on their platforms. Only four in ten (39%) believe government shares this responsibility, running counter to points raised by former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg now of Facebook, earlier this week.
The results of a nationwide survey of over 2,000 adults is being published ahead of the close of the Government’s consultation on online harms on 1 July and will feature in CIM’s submission to the consultation.
The results point to the fact that the Government’s White Paper doesn’t address the presence of fake news on social media unless it is causing a specific harm. Our research uncovered a widespread expectation that social media companies are responsible for removing fake news from their platforms.
Chris Daly, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: “At CIM, we are concerned about the damage fake content has upon public trust. As marketers we spend £3.9bn on internet display advertising with the aim of bringing value to our customers.* Our professional members and the marketing industry as a whole needs confidence they are spending their marketing budgets wisely.
The public are unequivocal in their belief that it is the responsibility of social media companies to find and remove fake news from their platforms. Yet the Government’s proposals for regulating social media platforms will not require them to monitor and remove it. In other words, even after the introduction of regulation, fake news may continue unchecked.”
Half of adults (51%) with a social media account say that they have seen something they would consider to be fake news in the past three months, with a third of people (31%) saying they had seen fake news in the past week.
This prevalence of fake news on social media is the likely cause of declining confidence in the accuracy of social media content. In a similar survey in 2014, the Chartered Institute of Marketing found that 62% indicated that they trusted content on social media (giving a score of 6 out of ten or more). By 2019, this had fallen to 34%, with only 1% saying that they are very confident (a score of nine or ten out of ten) that information on social media is accurate or genuine.
The Government’s proposals also provide an exemption for private messaging. However, when asked as part of the survey most of the public believe that there should be some level of monitoring of private messages on platforms like WhatsApp.
- Monitoring of messages made by people with a history of problematic behaviour online is backed by 41%
- While 31% believe private messages should be monitored for “buzz words”
- Only one in four (26%) said that they did not believe private messages should be monitored