UK And US Need To Trust More On Fake News Detection

Fake news has been the term on everyone's lips since President Trump swore his oath to defend the Constitution in front of crowds that were as big as whichever side you decide to believe. Of course, it has existed for many years, but now it has risen to the fore.

A recent Ipsos Mori poll, reported in The Telegraph, makes for an intriguing read for not only comparing how gullible different nations are to fake news but, just as crucially, how we all rate one another's nose for sniffing out the use of alternative facts. 

The company behind the research tells The Telegraph that Britons are among the best for spotting fake news, with one in three admitting they have, at some time, fallen for a rogue article. It is noticeably higher in the US -- where nearly half, at 46%, admit they have been caught out. In Brazil and India, the rate of falling for a fake story nearly doubles compared to the UK. 

The reason offered is that British official bodies are well regulated and non-partisan and so can generally be trusted for the figures they provide. Hence, Ipsos Mori reveals, Brits are among the best in the world at getting their figures right, such as the rate of immigration, specifically when asked about the proportion of people following the Muslim faith in the wider population. In Britain, the answers are apparently far more accurate than those offered in the US and Italy. 

However, here's the rub. Brits are generally among the best at spotting fake news and having correct official figures and estimates front of mind. However, although we trust ourselves, we are far less trusting of others.

Only a little over one in four, at 28%, believe their compatriots are able to spot fake news, meaning that nearly three in four believe the rest of the country is not adept at spotting alternative facts when they see them. 

In the US, online news readers have pretty much the same percentage of trust when it comes to believing whether or not their compatriots are falling for fake stories (it's 28% in the UK and 29% in the US. As nearly half of Americans admit to falling for fake news and just a third of Britons concede they have too, that means the UK is overblowing the problem by fearing far more are falling for fake news headlines than actually are.

Americans could be seen as similarly over-emphasising the problem of fake news, as 71% believe that others can't spot it, whereas just under half admit to having been tricked. Of course, the margins are more narrow in the US.

What might be more alarming for global news organisations is that 56% of Chinese respondents admit to falling for fake news, but 58% believe their fellow citizens can spot a bit of media trickery when they see it.

China is clearly in denial while America is a little more concerned about fellow citizens' ability to sift through the news intelligently. However, way out there at the forefront of global research are the Brits who clearly think their fellow news readers are a lot more foolish than they truly are.

Fake news is clearly a massive issue in the US and the UK, but the lesson here is that we should probably learn to trust our fellow citizens a little more to sift out the truth from forcefully argued alternative facts. 

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