Study reveals public want Government to do more to tackle fake news


NEARLY two-thirds of people believe the Government needs to do more to combat so-called fake news, a report has suggested.

The report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University found 61% of those surveyed said they backed MPs taking efforts to combat misinformation, as an investigation is carried out into possible interference in the Brexit vote.

This came as a slump was seen in those finding their news on Facebook, which has been heavily criticised for spreading misinformation.

The research, published on Thursday, also found the BBC to be the most trusted news source in the UK, with tabloid newspapers and newly-formed websites believed to be the worst.

Nic Newman, research associate at the Reuters Institute, said: “A committee of British MPs has been investigating ‘fake news’ and demanded information from Facebook and Twitter about any Russian activity during the EU referendum.

“Pressure for some kind of regulation is growing, even as our data show social media usage for news starting to go into reverse.”

In the survey, 21% of people said they used Facebook as a source of news in the past week, with one focus group participant saying: “I’ve actually pulled back from using Facebook a lot since the whole political landscape changed over the last few years because I just find everyone’s got an opinion.”

Of those who had heard of the brands, the BBC received a trust score of seven out of 10, with ITV and Channel 4 news following closely behind.

The Times and The Guardian were the highest-rated newspapers, with the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail and its sister website placed higher than The Sun which had a score of less than four.

This year’s research saw a 2% decrease to 27% of those using Facebook as a source for news.

The report, which surveyed 2,117 people in the UK, came as the founder of the Leave.EU Brexit campaign, Arron Banks, clashed with MPs on a Commons committee investigating so-called fake news.