An increasing number of users are shifting from social media websites such as Facebook to messaging apps such as WhatsApp as the source for their daily dose of news and current affairs. According to a recent study conducted by Reuters Institute pointed out that in addition to this shift, the public across the globe was highly concerned about the problem of fake news on the Internet as pointed by an AFP report. According to the report, the use of social media websites for news declined by six percent in comparison to last year in the United States.
Nic Newman, the lead author of the study and one of the founding members of BBC News website added, “Almost all the decline is due to a decrease in the discovery, posting and sharing of news in Facebook” while talking to AFP. One of the reasons for this move was the Cambridge Analytica scandal which pushed users to move to WhatsApp and Instagram. The interesting thing to note here is that both Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook. Digital News Report for 2018 pointed out that about 54 percent of test population in Malaysia, 48 percent in Brazil, 36 percent in Spain and 30 percent in Turkey use WhatsApp for news.
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In addition to WhatsApp, a survey by YouGov noted that users in Asia and South America have started using Instagram for news while users in Europe and United States are also using Snapchat for news. The survey also stated that only 23 percent of users trusted news that was spotted on social media websites while the average level of trust in the news was about 44 percent. To extrapolate, more than half the users don’t trust news that they find on the internet but it is nothing different as the level of trust was 43 percent last year.
Considering that users don’t trust news that they spot on social media websites and more than half the users don’t really trust news on the internet, about 54 percent of users admitted that they were concerned about the spread of fake news on the Internet. The spread is likely to spread as news consumption shifts to messaging apps where it is difficult for users to fact check news and they are likely to believe the news as it is delivered to them.
The report stated that with 85 percent, people in Brazil are most concerned about the fake news while with 30 percent, people in the Netherlands are the least concerned about the fake news. The survey pointed out that a majority of internet users believed that news platforms and publishers should do more to fix fake news while about 60 percent of users in Europe, 63 percent in Asia and about 41 percent in the United States said that it was the responsibility of the government to fix and stop the spread of fake news. Last but not the least, the report pointed out that podcasts are gaining popularity to access news while some users are also using digital assistants to access news.