Handelsblatt/YouGov Exclusive

Germans' Distrust in Online Media on the Rise

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Alongside the rise of so-called "fake news" on social networks, distrust of online media has grown in Germany. Source: Tobias Hase / DPA

Facebook has already learned a lesson. The social network recently announced it is teaming up with media organizations to filter its content for fake news. Awareness of the issue has grown since November’s election in the United States, where some blamed fake news that was spread on the social network for influencing the presidential outcome.

In Germany, the announcement comes at what looks to be a suitable time amid fears that misinformation could sway the country’s own parliamentary elections set for September. According to a new quarterly survey by the online polling firm YouGov conducted for Handelsblatt Global, a growing number of Germans don’t trust online news.

The quarterly poll found 49 percent said they don’t trust the medium, compared to 43 percent who do. These figures mark a shift from YouGov’s poll three months earlier when 46 percent said they don’t trust news websites compared to 48 who did.

Online news is treated with skepticism in a majority of the polled countries – and distrust is growing in many of them. Distrust is particularly high in Sweden (57 percent), France (56 percent) and Britain (53 percent). Only in Finland and Norway is there a majority that has faith in online media sources.

The Media Trust Question-01

Yet most Germans continue to trust traditional television and print media, according to the survey, which polled 1,000 people in seven European countries.

Television news, which is led by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF as well as the private 24-hour cable news station NTV, gets the best ratings. The survey found that 63 percent of Germans trust either “a fair amount” or “a lot” of what their TV news tells them.

Traditional newspapers, which are still more read in Germany than in other countries, are also held in high esteem: 54 percent said they trusted newspapers, compared to 41 percent who are inclined to doubt them.

When it comes to traditional television and print, the situation in most countries is more of a mixed bag in terms of public confidence.

Britain has the biggest swing of any country polled. Television is trusted by 61 percent of the population, but the country’s newspaper industry wins the award for the least trusted media sector in all surveyed countries. The poll found 64 percent of Brits say they don’t trust print publications.

The numbers are quite different in France: 58 percent of the French are skeptical of television news and there is nearly an even split in regards to newspapers.

The award for most trusted sector across the seven countries goes to Finnish television (85 percent) followed by Finnish newspapers (81 percent).

 

Daniel Tost is an editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: tost@handelsblatt.com

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