LONDON: Just a fifth (20%) of news readers in the UK are confident that the news they consume is real and a full 70% want social media companies to take more responsibility about the growing fake news phenomenon.

Furthermore, only 7% believe Facebook and Twitter are doing enough to protect them from the problem and nearly half (45%) say they find it difficult to distinguish fake news from genuine reporting.

These are some of the key findings from a survey of 1,000 UK consumers carried out by Populus Data Solutions on behalf of the7stars media agency.

The research, coming just a week before UK voters go to the polls in what is now becoming a closely fought General Election, led the7stars to conclude that "UK news readers are both confused and resigned to the fact that they need to be able to establish the veracity of news themselves".

This is borne out by further survey findings, including more than half (53%) of respondents saying they actively seek out sources they feel they can trust.

Only 10% say they trust news shared by friends on social media, while another 45% say they would not trust a shared news article.

Interestingly, the research also found that 41% of respondents trust print newspapers and TV over online content, but just 10% say they have changed the sources they use since the issue of fake news came to public attention.

And older readers are less confident about the quality of the news they read, with around half (52%) of those aged 65+ saying they find it difficult to tell the difference between real and fake news compared to 37% of readers aged 25 to 34.

"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 trust and alternative facts," said Frances Revel, Associate Director of Insight at the7stars.

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

A separate survey released earlier this week, this time involving 2,000 respondents in the UK, seems to back up the7stars research after finding that just 10% have trust in the election coverage they read on social media.

Data sourced from the7stars; additional content by WARC staff