The 2017 edition of the Digital Trust Index (DTI) assesses user trust in the primary uses of digital media in France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
In the 2016 edition, the uses monitored were the following: getting news updates, finding information about health and meeting people online. For a representative panel of French, German and UK users formed by our partner OpinionWay, and with qualitative support from a verbatim study with the Plugr tool, the 2017 DTI shows us that overall trust is on the rise. In every category, especially health, internet users confirmed their growing trust in digital media.
One internet usage category did lose some ground, however. The level of trust in « finding information online » has not grown at the same rate as other uses since 2016. The same phenomenon was observed in all three countries: established digital media outlets (Die Welt, Le Monde, Le Figaro, the BBC) have seen a high average trust rating from users (around 65%), who use them to verify information. Conversely, another major source of information, social media, is considered highly untrustworthy (with a trust rating of only 30-40%).
In this study, we look at the origins of fake news stories, the reasons they gain traction, and why it would be wise not to impose regulations. The cure would be worse than the disease.
The conclusion of the DTI discusses the fake news phenomenon. Amid the controversial elections in the United States and Europe, some have wondered if regulations are needed. As a Washington Post opinion piece from earlier this year put it: « Shutting down fake news could move us closer to a modern-day ‘1984’ and its Ministry of Truth. » The observations in the DTI illustrate that social media is perceived as an untrustworthy source of information and is not considered as having authority.