Europeans want more preventive action against disinformation on the internet

More than half of Europeans doubt the veracity of the information they find on the internet, according to a survey published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on Thursday. A large majority of Europeans believe that technology companies and political decision-makers should do more to combat online disinformation.

Around 85 per cent of European citizens think political decision-makers should do more to combat the spread of disinformation. According to the study, 89 per cent feel the companies behind social networking platforms should take more preventive action.

This goes hand in hand with a growing awareness of the problem among European citizens: 54 per cent often or very often doubt the accuracy of the information they find on the internet, while 39 per cent say they have been confronted with misinformation before.

Twitter users exposed to disinformation

Only 44 per cent of respondents say they have ever checked information found online and just 22 per cent report misinformation. Age plays an important role: the younger and better educated the respondents, the more they question the accuracy of the information and take action to combat misinformation.

The survey also shows that intense users of social networks are more exposed to disinformation, especially on Twitter and Telegram.

When it comes to the influence of social networks on democracy, Europeans are divided, with big differences between countries. Critical views dominate in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, while Poles are much more positive about the influence of networks on democracy.

The survey on which the Bertelsmann Stiftung study is based was conducted last March among 13,270 people aged between 16 and 70 in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.

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