Many Developed Countries View Online Misinformation as ‘Major Threat’

Almost three-quarters of individuals throughout 19 international locations consider that the unfold of false data on-line is a “main menace,” in accordance with a survey launched on Wednesday by the Pew Analysis Heart.

Researchers requested 24,525 individuals from 19 international locations with superior economies to price the severity of threats from local weather change, infectious illnesses, on-line misinformation, cyberattacks from different international locations and the situation of the worldwide financial system. Local weather change was the highest-rated concern for many international locations, with a median of 75 p.c of respondents saying it’s a main menace. Misinformation trailed carefully behind, with a median of 70 p.c deeming it a significant menace.

The findings add to research that Pew launched this yr specializing in america. That survey confirmed misinformation just about tied with cyberhacking as the highest concern for People, with about seven in 10 individuals saying every is a significant menace. In a pointy distinction with the opposite international locations surveyed, america rated local weather change the bottom menace among the many out there choices.

After a number of bruising years of misinformation about elections and the coronavirus pandemic, 70 p.c of People now consider that false data unfold on-line is a significant menace. One other 26 p.c consider it’s a minor menace, and simply 2 p.c say it isn’t a menace.

The findings place america among the many international locations most involved about misinformation on-line. Germans had been probably the most involved, with 75 p.c saying it’s a main menace. Solely 42 p.c of Israelis ranked the problem that extremely, the bottom among the many international locations surveyed.

Democrats and people with extra schooling had been extra more likely to price on-line misinformation as a significant menace. Republicans and people with much less schooling had been much less more likely to rank it as excessive.

Amongst People who voted for former President Donald J. Trump in 2020, 66 p.c mentioned on-line misinformation was a significant menace, in contrast with 78 p.c amongst voters who backed President Biden.

Researchers have previously warned that folks with much less schooling and people in additional weak positions (due to, as an illustration, low earnings or poor well being) had been extra more likely to consider in, and share, false data.

The survey discovered that younger individuals tended to view misinformation as much less worrisome than their older counterparts. This discovering aligns with previous research displaying that younger persons are much less more likely to share misinformation on-line and have extra confidence in navigating falsehoods on social media.

Jacob Poushter, an affiliate director of world attitudes analysis for Pew, advised that older individuals tended to rank technological threats extra extremely than threats like infectious illnesses or an ailing financial system.

“We all know that older persons are extra involved about cyberattacks and the unfold of false data on-line,” Mr. Poushter mentioned. “That would imply that it’s loads about expertise.”

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