45% of UK adults can't differentiate real and fake news
Just 20% of UK news audiences feel confident that the news they are reading is real, while 45% find it 'very difficult' to differentiate fake news from the truth, according to research carried out by Populus Data Solutions for the7stars.
The survey of 1,000 Brits found that UK news readers are both 'confused' and 'resigned' to the fact that they need to be able to establish the veracity of news themselves.
The study also revealed a strong sense of cynicism about neutrality and factual accuracy in the media; (60% said they do not think it is a new problem).
Social media has played a significant role, with just 7% believing that networks such as Facebook and Twitter protect them from fake news designed to manipulate public opinion, while 70% think social media sites need to do more tackle the problem.
Perhaps reassuringly, 41% said they are concerned about fake news compared to 22% who are not - and more than half (53%) are actively seeking out sources they feel they can trust.
Just 10% trust news shared by friends on social media, with 45% saying they would not trust a shared news article. The majority of UK news readers also said they always read beyond the headline.
Meanwhile, the study found that while most news readers (41%) trust print newspapers and TV more than news from the internet, just 10% said they had changed the sources they use since the issue of fake news came to public attention.
Older readers were found to be less confident about the quality of the news they are reading, with 52% of those over 65 saying they found it difficult to tell the difference between real and fake news compared to 37% of 25-34 year olds.
"Fake news has been a lead story for a while now and our findings show that UK consumers are concerned and feel that social media brands must do more to help them tell the difference between the truth and ‘alternative facts’," said Frances Revel, associate director of insight at the7stars.
"While some readers are clearly confident about finding reliable news information, others, particularly older readers are less so. Confidence in real news could be damaged unless action is taken to help consumers."