Fake news is a serious issue of concern for a majority of Filipinos, survey finds

As internet usage rises among adults in the Philippines, a large majority of Filipinos are viewing the issue of fake news and false information as a serious concern, revealed a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released this week.

Looking at results from two surveys conducted from December 8-16, 2017, and March 23-27, 2018, SWS found that when averaged, 42 percent of respondents were internet users — a slight uptick from 41 percent in June 2017, but a large one throughout the years.

“The annual average proportion of Internet users nationwide was nine percent when SWS first surveyed it in 2006.  It rose to 11 percent in 2017 and increased steadily to 38 percent in 2017,” said SWS about its published survey on Monday, June 11.

Among the internet users, an average of 67 percent saw the problem of fake news as a serious concern —  40 percent thought the issue was very serious, and 26 percent saw it as being somewhat serious.

On average, 20 percent were undecided, and 13 percent thought fake news as not being a serious problem. (Nine percent said it was somewhat not serious, and 4 percent said it wasn’t serious at all.)

The survey found that the perceived seriousness of fake news on the internet was directly related to the frequency of internet usage.

“The March 2018 survey found that 51 percent among those who seldom use the Internet said the fake news problem is serious, followed by 64 percent among those who use it a few days per week and those who use it less than an hour daily, 69 percent among those who use it 1-2 hours daily, and 77 percent among those who use it 3 hours or more daily,” said SWS.

Fake news problem in media

When asked how serious of a problem the spread of fake news was in media like television, radio, and newspapers, 60 percent of adult Filipinos in the December 2017 survey said it was a serious problem with 29 percent saying it was very serious, and 31 percent saying somewhat serious.

Twenty seven percent were undecided on whether the spread of fake news in media was a problem.  Thirteen percent said it wasn’t serious.

Government role in fake news issue

Also from the December 2017 data, 61 percent of the adult respondents believed that the government was serious in solving the problem of fake news.  Thirty percent saw the government as being very serious, and 30 percent saw it being somewhat serious.

Undecided were 31 percent of the respondents, with eight percent thinking the government was either somewhat not serious, or not serious at all.

Fake news problem in internet

Asked in March 2018 whether they saw fake news as a problem on the internet, a majority of respondents believed it was a serious problem — more so for respondents from Metro Manila and Balance Luzon where 71 percent of respondents in each area saw it as a serious problem.

In Visayas, 68 percent said fake news on the internet was a serious problem.  The problem was less serious in Mindanao, at 52 percent.

Breaking the numbers down in terms of population and area descriptors, 68 percent in urban areas saw it was a serious problem, compared to 64 percent in rural areas.

When looking at social media platforms, Facebook had surprisingly the lowest — though still high — percentage of users that saw fake news as a serious problem.  Users were slightly higher on YouTube at 68 percent, followed by Viber at 75 percent, and Instagram at 77 percent.

The surveys were conducted from December 8-16, 2017, and March 23-27, 2018, and gathered results from 1,200 adults (18 years and older) through face-to-face interviews across the country.

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