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Indians Fear Expressing Political Views Online, Losing Trust in Digital News: Report

The report states that the users “think that it could make their friends of family, work colleagues or other acquaintances think differently of them.”


Updated:March 26, 2019, 4:14 PM IST
Fake Facebook, Twitter Accounts May Now Be Located By New Algorithm (photo for representation: Reuters)
Image for representation: (Reuters)

New Delhi: More than 50% news readers in India have lost trust in online news media due to poor journalism, fake news and “hyper-partisan content”, a Reuters Institute report has revealed. India Digital News Report states that Indian news readers have high concerns over the “possible implications” of expressing their “political views” online.

“57% of our respondents are worried whether online news they come across is real or fake, and when asked about different kinds of potential disinformation, many of our respondents express concern over hyper-partisan content (51%) and poor journalism (51%) as well as false news (50%),” the report stated.

According to the report, half of the people surveyed said that they share online news. Worryingly, around 50% also expressed concerns while openly expressing their political views online through Facebook and WhatsApp.

The report states that the users “think that it could make their friends of family, work colleagues or other acquaintances think differently of them.” Around 55% of the respondents, according to the survey, also fear that to express their political views could get them into trouble with authorities too.

“Platform-dominated media environment with search engines, social media, and messaging applications play a key role in how people access and use news in a setting characterised by low trust in many news media, high concerns over the possible implications of expressing political views, and widespread worries about different kinds of disinformation,” report further stated.

The report suggested that Indians encountered fake news mostly through social media, making them unable to identify the authentic news due to “disinformation”.

“Our respondents have low trust in news overall (36%) and even the news they personally use (39%), but interestingly express higher levels of trust in news in search (45%) and social media (34%) than respondents in many other countries. Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum have similar levels of trust in the news, whereas non-partisans have lower levels.”

The report is based on data from a survey of English-speaking affluent and highly educated Indians living in various cities in India who use mobile phone for online news. It has been written by Dr Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of Reuters Institute and Dr Antonis Kologeropoulos, postdoctoral research fellow at the institute. It has been jointly co-authored by Asst. Professor Taberez Ahmed Neyazi of National University of Singapore and independent journalist Zeenab Aneez working as researcher in digital media and culture.

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