In a landmark survey conducted across 16 countries where general elections are scheduled for 2024, UNESCO and Ipsos explored public sentiments on disinformation, media trust, and concerns about the impact of online content on election. The findings shed light on the increasing reliance on social media for news, high levels of concern regarding disinformation, and a strong call for regulatory intervention.
RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AS A NEWS SOURCE
56% of internet users frequently use social media as their primary news source, surpassing television (44%).
Television remains the most trusted source during elections, with 66% trust, followed by radio news (63%), and print media news (61%).
PREVALENCE OF DISINFORMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA
68% of internet users believe that disinformation is most widespread on social media.
87% express concern about the impact of disinformation on upcoming elections, with 47% being “very concerned.”
ENCOUNTER WITH HATE SPEECH
67% of internet users have encountered hate speech online, with 58% identifying Facebook as the platform where it is most prevalent.
LGBT+ individuals (33%) and ethnic/racial minorities are perceived as the primary victims of online hate speech.
CALL FOR REGULATION AND INTERVENTION
88% believe that both governments/regulatory bodies and social media platforms should address disinformation and hate speech.
89% support the idea that governments and regulators should enforce trust and safety measures on social media during election campaigns.
87% are worried about the impact of disinformation on upcoming elections, demonstrating a high level of global concern.
Citizens in countries with medium/low Human Development Index (HDI) are even more inclined to desire intervention.
PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION
89% endorse the idea that governments and regulators should require social media platforms to implement trust and safety measures during election campaigns.
International organizations, such as the UN or UNESCO, are seen as having a role in combating disinformation by 75% of respondents.
CITIZENS’ ROLE IN COMBATING DISINFORMATION
Only 48% of surveyed citizens have reported online content related to disinformation in the context of an election campaign.
Younger age groups (18-34) and those highly interested in politics are more likely to report such content.
The survey highlights the complex landscape of media consumption, the challenges posed by disinformation, and the strong public demand for regulatory measures to safeguard the integrity of elections. As the digital age evolves, addressing these concerns becomes paramount for maintaining trust in information sources and democratic processes.