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Over 60% of Irish people concerned about the truth of online information

According to a new global study, TheJournal.ie remains one of the most popular online news brands in Ireland.

Image: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

OVER 60% OF Irish people are concerned about deciphering what is real or fake online, according to a new global study.  

That’s according to research commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which looked at how news is consumed globally across 40 countries. It found that 62% of Irish people had concerns about the veracity of information online. 

The figure puts Ireland on par with the UK and the rest of Europe, although substantially lower than in the US where the corresponding result was 67%. 

A total of 18% of people in Ireland were ‘very concerned’. Irish people were most concerned about false or misleading information from political parties or the government, with 35% expressing concern about information from these sources. 

The study found that 19% were concerned about information from activists, while 15% expressed doubts about information from ordinary people. Only 7% said that they had concerns about false or misleading information from journalists or news organisations. 

The data for the research was collected in January and February, just before the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen an explosion of disinformation and misinformation spread online and on Whatsapp. 

Since the start of the crisis, TheJournal.ie has been fact-checking and debunking claims circulating online in relation to Covid-19  – something noted in the digital news report, which was compiled by Dublin City University. 

TheJournal.ie was ranked in the top three main digital news brands used by readers. 

NewsBrands

The study found that 48% of Irish people trusted the news most of the time, with 27% claiming to distrust the media – a lower level than the EU generally, where distrust is 31%. 

It also found that 12% of people paid for news online – the same rate as last year. However, younger people are more likely to pay for news online. Among 18-24-year-olds, the proportion paying for news grew from 14% last year to 22% in 2020. 

“One of the recurring themes for public health officials during the pandemic has been the importance of accessing reliable information from trusted sources. Thankfully, this report shows that citizens in Ireland have access to, and rely on, credible information provided by established news sources,” said Michael O’Keefe, the Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. 

“However, there is no room for complacency regarding the sustainability of our news provision ecosystem,” he said.

Many news organisations in Ireland and around the world have been hit hard by the loss of advertising caused by the pandemic. 

“While there is some evidence that online subscriptions have increased during COVID-19, it’s not clear if these will be sustained or if any additional revenue from this source will replace lost advertising,” O’Keefe said. 

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Political Advertising

The report also found that 47% of people believe that political advertising should be allowed on Irish TV. Such advertising is currently prohibited. 

Additionally, 35% of people said political advertising should be allowed on Facebook, Google and Twitter.

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The placing of political ads on social media – as well as responsibility for their accuracy – has been a contentious issue in recent years. And while the spending on political ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram remains low in Ireland, it’s becoming an increasing popular way of reaching voters. 

The study found that 65% of Irish people believe that digital media should take responsibility for the accuracy of the political ads they host. The EU average was 59%. 

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