Fake News numbers: How fake is Fake News and how big is the problem?

Fake news has become a significant and recurring issue in the media industry with sometimes disastrous consequences for people, organisations and even countries. Online PR disruptor JournoLink looked into numbers related the problem to try to understand the size of the phenomenon and investigate the perception of the public, particularly in the UK, on the matter. The survey we ran showed that 45% of the British public believe they encounter fake news online every single day.

According to this same survey which asked participants “How often do you believe you encounter fake news online?”, a further 19.64% believe they encounter fake news online at least once a week. Just a fifth believe they never encounter fake news. In other words, the majority of the population believe they encounter fake news online regularly or very regularly.

Our research also showed that from 2015 to 2018, there was a 22% increase in IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) rulings resulting in a declaration of a breach relating to the accuracy. A figure which seems to go along with the previous findings.

Google Trends has shown that the search term 'fake news' began to surge in popularity in November 2016 and peaked in 2018 (Globally). Even if the number of searches has been in decline since March 2019, in July the number was still 3 times as popular as it was in October 2016. A similar pattern has been observed in the UK, where the query is particularly popular in Portsmouth, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool and Cardiff.

The engagement with these stories is also a matter of concern, especially on Facebook where millions of interactions on fake news take place. According to a BuzzFeed research piece, in the final 3 months of the 2016 US Presidential Campaign, fake news stories got more interaction on Facebook than mainstream media stories did, reaching 8.7 million engagements. Facebook has since been working on solutions to tackle the problem, such as removing the spammy content and deleting millions of fake accounts. In 2016, known fake news content was getting around 200 million engagements on Facebook each month. In September 2018, this was down to around 70 million engagements each month.

Read our full report here: https://journolink.com/blog/319-fake-news-statistics-2019-uk-worldwide-data

And the infographic here: https://journolink-static.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/downloads/fake-news-numbers.png

These results are particularly worrying in the current climate where threats to journalists are on the rise, especially as fake news undermines their work and is sometimes used as a tool to discredit them.

The Foreign Affairs Committee will organise a news session this Wednesday 24 July to examine the potential approaches, challenges and resources available to the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in the Foreign Secretary’s quest to strengthen global media freedom and combat disinformation.


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