Global concerns surrounding the organized spread of false information on social media
June 9th, 2023, Janice Fernandes

Global concerns surrounding the organized spread of false information on social media

The dissemination of misleading and fake news was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues with the rise in popularity of AI-generated content, such as the 'Balenciaga Pope,' 'outlaw Donald Trump,' and the most recent incident involving an explosion near the Pentagon.

In a recent YouGov survey, we presented a series of statements about technological advancements to people across 18 international markets and asked them whether they were concerned about progress in these areas. 

The highest proportion of global consumers, more than two-thirds (68%), are worried about the coordinated or organized spread of false information on social media. Around half of consumers are worried about robots taking over jobs (51%).

More than two in five global respondents (45%) express concern about generative artificial intelligence (AI), a technology that uses prompts to generate text or images. Self-driving cars are a concern for 42% of respondents. Gene editing, a technology that modifies genes to treat or prevent diseases, registers 46% of worried respondents. The metaverse, a virtual world that people can interact with using virtual reality technology, worried 29% of respondents.

Data indicates that consumers are most likely to say they are not worried about self-driving cars (47%), followed by the metaverse and robots taking over their jobs (40% each).  

Taking a closer look at consumers who are either ‘very worried’ or ‘somewhat worried’ about organized spread of false information on social media, by market and age demographics, reveals some interesting differences.

Globally, 68% of all adults express concern about the coordinated or organized dissemination of false information on social media platforms. However, the extent of worry varies across different age groups. Among adults aged 18-24, 62% are worried, and the figure rises among the older age groups, with three-quarters of those over 55 expressing concerns about fake news circulating on social media (76%).

Overall, individuals aged 36 and below exhibit lower levels of concern, while higher levels are observed among older age groups, with the exception of Hong Kong consumers.

When we consider specific countries, Indonesia stands out as the nation with the highest level of worry regarding this issue (82%). This high level of concern remains consistent across all age groups, ranging from 79% (25-34-year-olds) to 89% (45-54-year-olds).

India, another Asian country, follows further behind with 73% of adults expressing worry about the organized spread of false information on social media. The level of concern is relatively consistent across age groups.

Great Britain is the third highest market with 72% of consumers saying they are worried. However, the level of concern drops among the youngest Brits, with only half of 18-24-year-olds (52%) expressing worry about coordinated spread of misleading or fake news on social media. Consumers between 35 to 44 years are also slightly less likely than the overall British population to reveal their worry (67%).

Of all the markets surveyed, the United States is among the countries where consumers are least likely to worry about fake news (67%). Consumers in other North American markets, such as Canada (71%) and Mexico (70%), are more likely to express concern about misinformation on social media. While Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 register the lowest concern (53%), in Canada, it’s 25-34-year-olds who are slightly less concerned (57%) about the organized spread of misinformation.

The UAE registers a concern level of approximately 64% among consumers, and this average is consistent across all age groups, with only slight variations in the levels of concern.

It is worth noting that Sweden displays the lowest level of concern among the countries listed, with only 57% of adults expressing worry, followed by Denmark at 59%. Swedes aged between 35 to 44 are most likely to be concerned about the organized spread of false information on social media.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 512 and 2007 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in March 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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