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by Sofia Villegas
30 May 2024
British citizens ‘extremely’ concerned about misinformation as general election looms, report reveals

A majority of citzens have witnessed misinformation in social media | Alamy

British citizens ‘extremely’ concerned about misinformation as general election looms, report reveals

More than 85 per cent of British citizens are “fairly or extremely” concerned about the spread of misinformation across social media, a new report has revealed. 

The survey, carried out by The Alan Turing Institute, also found staggering low levels of trust in the UK Government amongst the British public. 

Gathering almost 2000 responses from across the UK, findings showed more than nine in ten had witnessed misinformation on social media “many times” or “occasionally”, yet more than half admitted they had not reported such content.

Of those who did report it, only 15 per cent were satisfied with the actions taken in response, suggesting the UK’s procedures for handling false information may be inadequate.

The findings come as British citizens get ready to head to the polling station in five weeks. 

Meanwhile, a majority - 80 per cent - had low or no trust in the UK Government, with almost two thirds believing it had tried to mislead them “somewhat” or “very much”.

Similar results were found regarding mainstream media, with around three quarters of participants sceptic of it.

Overall, participants were highly supportive of social platforms “intervening behind the scenes” to tackle the spread of misinformation. However, only 15 per cent had used participant interventions before, such as media literacy courses, despite around half being aware of these, indicating new measures might be needed to encourage people to combat the issue.

In December, UK tech secretary Michelle Donelan confirmed the UK Government was working with social media companies to tackle the issue. However, evidence is piling up to suggest this has failed to tone down fears. Earlier this month, a report by the Chartered Institute IT revealed more than half of IT professionals feared AI-generated content could affect the result of the general election.

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