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Maltese believe fake news is a big worry for Malta – EU study

Figure tallies with EU average

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

More than four of every five Maltese people think that news distorting reality is a problem in Malta, according to a new study.

About 86 per cent of 500 Maltese respondents who participated in an EU-wide questionnaire last month felt that news which was either false or misrepresented what was actually happening was a problem facing the country today.

The figure tallies with the EU average of 85 per cent.

The questionnaire, conducted as part of a Eurobarometer survey, found that only one per cent of Maltese felt incorrect news reporting was “definitely” not a problem.

How often is the news wrong?

More than half of the Maltese respondents said they came across instances every week. Nearly a third said they stumbled across incorrect news every day.

Respondents said they came across incorrect news every week

If this sounds high, bear in mind that the EU average was 10 percentage points higher. A fifth said they seldom or never experienced incorrect news reporting, and 12 per cent said they were not sure.

The Maltese respondents expressed themselves as fairly confident in their ability to spot incorrect news.

A quarter said they could “definitely” identify false information being presented by news organisations – nearly double the EU average. About half said they were fairly confident, with just six per cent saying they were not confident in their ability to pick out a falsehood.

False news reporting was not just a local problem: nearly 90 per cent of Maltese respondents felt that it was also a threat to democracy. News accessed via social media was the least trusted by the Maltese, with 31 per cent saying they had an issue with information sourced from sites like Facebook.

Nearly two-thirds, however, also admitted to logging in to social media every day, substantially higher than the EU average of 50 per cent.

Television news is the most trusted source in the country, with 67 per cent saying they had confidence in what was reported on TV. This was followed by radio, with 54 per cent.

Newspapers and magazines came in next, scoring below 40 per cent. This is significantly lower than the EU average of 63 per cent.

Although only 39 per cent said they trusted what they read in print, those who said they did not trust what they read in newspapers was quite low – 14 per cent.

At 47 per cent, the Maltese were the most likely to admit they were unsure whether they should believe what they read in newspapers. The EU average was 10 per cent.

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