Norwegian Media Authority publishes survey on fake news

  • Awareness
  • 29/06/2017
  • Norwegian Safer Internet Centre

The June 2017 edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin focuses on the highly topical issue of fake news. Here, Tone Haugan-Hepsø and Ida A. Erikstad from the Norwegian Media Authority (national coordinator of Norway's Safer Internet Centre (SIC)) update us on a recent survey on the issue.

At the request of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the Norwegian Media Authority (NMA) recently carried out a survey on fake news. The survey was designed by the NMA, based on similar studies on fake news in the US (Pew Research Center, December 2016) and Sweden (TU, February 2017).

A representative sample of 1,000 people, aged 18-80, were asked questions about the sharing and spreading of fake news, the ability to detect such news, who they think is responsible for preventing the dissemination of fake news, and who they think is responsible for increasing media literacy among the population. The survey was carried out by a polling institute in March 2017.

The survey shows that, in Norway, 55 per cent of respondents suspect that they read news they consider to be inaccurate on a weekly or more frequent basis. 45 per cent report reading news which they consider deliberately falsified weekly or more often. 23 per cent of respondents say they have shared a news story which they later realised was fake on at least one occasion. Furthermore, 15 per cent report that they have shared a news story that they knew or suspected to be fake at least once.

Four out of ten respondents are unsure of their ability to detect fake news, while almost five out of ten have fairly good confidence in their own ability to detect fake news. 43 per cent answered that they are confident and 4 per cent answered that they are very confident. Confidence in one's own abilities is greater among the younger respondents. 14 per cent of the respondents are unsure whether they can detect fake news or not. At the same time, belief in the ability of others to do so was lower: 22 per cent believe in other people's ability to detect fake news. Almost 60 per cent of the respondents are fairly unsure of other people's ability to detect fake news. 18 per cent of the respondents do not know.

When asked where they most often read false information presented as news, a fairly large majority of the respondents pointed to the internet and social media: 62 per cent mention Facebook, 15 per cent search engines, 14 per cent YouTube and 12 per cent alternative news websites. 21 per cent pointed to traditional media as being the place where they most often read fake news. Following on from this, it is interesting to note that the survey shows that for almost 90 per cent of the respondents, traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television have a very big responsibility (68 per cent) or quite a big responsibility (21 per cent) for preventing the spread of fake news. The expectancy towards social media's responsibility is a bit lower, with 49 per cent thinking that social media has a very big responsibility and 33 per cent meaning that social media has quite a big responsibility. Only 27 per cent considered that the general population has a substantial responsibility for preventing the spread of fake news.

To the question "What you do when you come across a news story that you suspect is false?", 37 per cent of the respondents stated that they do not do anything. At the same time, 35 per cent answer that they check it via web search, 24 per cent check via traditional media, and 18 per cent consult "fact check services". Furthermore, 4 per cent state that they contact the editor or the journalist, and 13 per cent state that they address fake news in the comments or via social media.

To be able to detect fake news and know what to do about it, it is vital to have a variety of media literacy skills and knowledge about source criticism. The survey shows that Norwegians believe that increasing media literacy and source criticism is primarily a responsibility of traditional media (50 per cent), closely followed by schools and education (47 per cent) and public authorities (46 per cent). 38 per cent stated that social media has a very large responsibility and 26 per cent that the responsibility rests with the wider population.

The NMA is among those who work actively to increase media literacy skills in the Norwegian population. Following on from the NMA presenting the survey on fake news, the Ministry of Culture has asked the NMA to prioritise work on media literacy this year.

Source: Norwegian Media Authority's survey on fake news in April 2017 (in Norwegian).

Find out more about the work of the Norwegian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

Alternatively, find the contact details for your national Safer Internet Centre here.

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