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Bad content is eroding trust in the internet

News, 12 June 2017
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WASHINGTON DC: Three-quarters (75%) of Americans expect digital platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, to do more to keep the internet safe and trustworthy, a new survey has revealed.

And exactly the same proportion of consumers regard the pairing of brand advertising with offensive online content as a threat to the continued integrity of the internet.

These are two of the headline findings from a survey of more than 1,200 US consumers conducted by Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), an advocacy group that warns major digital companies that they need to collaborate to weed out "bad actors" on the internet.

Although the DCA credits companies for taking steps to deal with "fake news" and inappropriate content, it says in its Trouble in Our Digital Midst report that more needs to be done.

Not least because almost two-thirds (64%) of Americans say their trust in the internet as a source of information has fallen after reports of "fake news" on sites.

And another two-thirds give digital platforms a C grade or lower when asked "What grade would you give digital platforms for ensuring that these platforms are not overrun by those trying to deceive, scam or trick consumers?"

Looking at what practical action consumers expect digital companies to take when it comes to clamping down on illicit activities, 59% say they should monitor their digital platforms and remove these activities when they find them.

Just a fifth (20%) think it would be appropriate for digital companies not to monitor their sites and only remove bad content after being notified.

"Digital platforms deserve credit for the steps they have taken to deal with issues such as 'fake news' and objectionable content, but clearly Americans are looking for more," said Tom Galvin, Executive Director of Digital Citizens.

"Americans want a more hands-on approach that includes monitoring these platforms and taking action to keep consumers safe," he added.

The DCA research chimes with the findings of a recent survey carried out in the UK by the7stars media agency, which found that only 7% of British consumers believe Facebook and Twitter are doing enough to protect them from fake news.

And more generally, 70% of British consumers say they want social media companies to take more responsibility about the growing phenomenon.

Data sourced from Digital Citizens Alliance, additional content by WARC staff

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