THURSDAY 13 DEC 2018 2:36 PM

UK WANTS FAKE NEWS TO BE A CRIMINAL OFFENCE

Global communications consultancy Instinctif Partners has conducted a survey, revealing that 69% of Britons believe fake news should be a legally punishable criminal offence, with most of them believing both the platform and the individual or organisation responsible should face implications. The results of the survey bring to light the increasingly unforgiving attitude of British audiences towards fake news.

Of the 2,000 people in the UK that took part, 55% are more suspicious of the news they consume across all media channels, while 60% proceed to individually research and fact check what they read. The way people fact check the news is usually through mainstream platforms, with 58% using the BBC as their source of verification. Almost half of the participants admit that the issue of fake news has made them more distrustful towards alternative sources of news.

Damian Reece, managing partner at Instinctif Partners and former head of business for the Telegraph Media Group says, “Fake news is a blight on the modern media landscape. The public is highly aware of it, worried about it and expecting action. Fake news is poisoning the well for all. However, there is opportunity for traditional, mainstream media brands, particularly news brands, to differentiate themselves. But a sceptical audience requires proof.”

The research, also reveals that despite social media platforms receiving the most intense public and political kickback in regard to fake news, traditional media hasn’t escaped the fake news war unscathed, with their reputation taking the biggest hit.

Reece says, “Our research underlines the impact fake news is having. Traditional news sources might not consider fake news a direct threat, leaving it to others to address. But the attitudes of readers and the public indicates this would be a strategic mistake and a missed opportunity. The preferences and expectations of commercially valuable audiences are changing, and they want all media to accept responsibility for addressing the threat of fake news and take action to restore confidence in the media.”

Despite the occurrence of controversial incidents on the topic of fake news on social media, social media has actually managed to increase its level of trust as a source of news over the past year. On the contrary, traditional media has seen a minor drop in trust.

From the the research, it is clear that in order for traditional media to regain its audiences’ misplaced trust and change people’s perception of its credibility, it should take action, which will clearly communicate to its audience.

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