Digital Consumer Trends 2021 | Theme 3
Fake news fever
With current technology, fake news can disseminate globally within minutes, powered by one-click sharing. The ability to spot what is real and what is faked varies. People who unwittingly get caught out by a falsified image or report may become more cynical about all news sources as a result.
The pandemic played a role in changing the way people access the news and also reinforced the need for qualitative information. Today, 14% of Belgians have a paid subscription to a news services. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone (83%) we surveyed in Belgium in mid-2021 considered fake news to be a big problem today, with a mere 4% disagreeing.
TV is still the most preferred source of news (39%), followed by news websites and print (25%).
Trust in traditional media is highest among the older age groups at 70% of 65-75 year-olds compared to 53% of 18-24 year-olds.
About one in five respondents lists social media as their preferred source for news. The popularity however doubles among 18 to 24-year-olds. In that age group, 13% of the respondents also considers the news on social media trustworthy, compared to an average of 8% across all age groups.
Those who use social media as their most preferred source of news are more likely to believe conspiracy theories and mistruths. For example, 31% believe that wearing a mask is bad for your health. This is significantly lower (15%) among those who use the TV as their most preferred source of news. The majority of respondents (57%) believe social media can be used to influence elections.