A new survey has revealed that 14% of respondents “frequently” believe fake news shared with them on the internet, with just over a third turning to fact-checking sites in order to determine the truth.
The survey, conducted by the UCSI Poll Research Centre, involved 1,116 Malaysians comprising 52.3% female respondents and 47.7% male.
When asked how often they initially believed fake news, 48% said sometimes, 31% said rarely and 6% said never.
The majority of them said they received the fake news on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram (79.7%), followed by communication applications like WhatsApp (67%).
Just over 43% received the fake news on video sharing platforms like YouTube while 23.1% received it on mainstream media sources such as television and newspapers, and 8.1% from other sources.
Respondents were allowed to choose more than one option.
When asked about action taken due to fake news, 37.8% said they did not share any news at all, while 37.5% said they put less trust in information shared on WhatsApp and other similar apps.
Some 36% said they trust the media less, 34.6% said they use news fact-checking websites such as Sebenarnya.my, and 21.8% said they use the internet less often.
The survey also asked them if they were aware of an ordinance criminalising the spread of fake news related to Covid-19 and the emergency proclamation.
Just over 67% said yes while 32.6% said no. When asked if they felt this was necessary to battle the spread of fake news, an overwhelming 80.2% said yes while only 19.8% said no.
In a statement, the research centre said the poll showed that most of the respondents were exposed to fake news on social media and through communication apps.
“This is worrisome as 62% of the respondents may frequently (14%) or sometimes (48%) initially believe the fake news they see,” it said, adding that awareness about battling fake news remained low.
“We are receiving mass volumes of information daily in this digital era, and some information may consist of partial or fully untruths.”
Voicing support however for freedom over “isolation from information due to laws and policies”, it said: “The wisdom of users and fact checking of information received is a better way to protect ourselves from fake news.”