POLITICS

More Than Half Of Voters Have Struggled To Spot Election Campaign Fake News, Research Reveals

Jeremy Corbyn fans are more likely to believe what they read on social media.

07/06/2017 16:50

More than half of voters have struggled to tell the difference between real and fake news during the election campaign, a survey has revealed. 

Pollsters ICM asked 2,000 people whether they could confidently identify fabricated stories - and 52% admitted they found it difficult to pick them out.  

Less than half the public say they trust the BBC generally and a staggering 40% of viewers in Scotland said they didn’t trust the organisations election coverage, compared to 26% nationally. 

A separate analysis by Populus, with 1,000 participants, revealed just 20% of people feel sure they news they read day-to-day is real. 

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are more than twice as likely to trust social media posts about the election than those who think he has had a bad campaign.

PA Wire/PA Images

 Labour accused the Tories of spreading ‘fake news’ after an attack video that went viral was edited to show Corbyn refusing to condemn the IRA, when the Labour leader actually said: “I condemn all the bombing by the loyalists and the IRA.”

The 85-second clip of quotes was circulated on social media and viewed three times more than any other political campaign video - evidence of the Conservatives ploughing funds into attacking Labour and Corbyn.

Social media giants are coming under increasing pressure to take more robust action against fake news carriers, with 70% of Populus respondents saying it’s the responsibility of Facebook, Twitter and other outlets to tackle the problem. 

Frances Revel, of the7stars media agency who commissioned the research, said: “Fake news has been a lead story for a while now and our findings demonstrate that UK consumers are concerned and feel that social media brands must do more to help them navigate the difference between the truth and ‘alternative facts’.

“While some readers are clearly confident about finding reliable news information, others, particularly older readers are less so. The study clearly shows that confidence in real news could be damaged unless action is taken to help consumers.”

Tom Dulat via Getty Images
Damian Collins says social media companies must do more to tackle fake news.

 Damian Collins, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee before the general election campaign, has previously said Facebook must be made more accountable. 

“Historically, there have been quite strict rules about the way information is presented and broadcasters work to a very strict code in terms of partiality and there are restrictions on use of advertising,” he said.

“But with something like Facebook you have a media which is increasingly seen as the most valuable media in an election period, but which is totally unregulated.”

HuffPost UK-Edelman focus groups held at various locations across the country thoughout the campaign revealed many ‘ordinary’ voters are turning away from traditional media and now consume their news through Facebook. 

In response to this rising trend, the social media giant announced it had made moves to help suppress fake news in the run up to the general election.

It said it had deleted ‘tens of thousands’s of bogus posts from its 31 million users in the UK, but continues to argue more regulation is unnecessary as Facebook is ‘a platform, not a publisher’.

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