Journalists say Facebook is the leading spreader of disinformation in new ICFJ survey

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15th October 2020 08:45 - Media and PR

Journalists say Facebook is the leading spreader of disinformation in new ICFJ survey: A survey of journalists from 125 countries around the globe has found that when it comes to the spreading of disinformation, Facebook ranked above all other sources, with 66% identifying it as a 'prolific vector'. Twitter was cited as a top spreader by 42% of respondents, followed by WhatsApp (35%), Instagram (11%) and Facebook Messenger (9%).

Initial findings from the Journalism and the Pandemic Project conducted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University have been published, based on the feedback from 1,400 English-speaking journalists around the world. 

The project seeks to look at how the global pandemic has impacted journalism and the role of journalists around the world.

Eight out of 10 journalists polled (81%) said they come across disinformation at least every week, with more than a quarter saying it is a daily occurrence. 

The study also looked at the responses of social media companies when disinformation is flagged, with just 8% of journalists saying they were satisfied with the response after contacting them - almost half (46%) were dissatisfied. The research found that the most common response from social media companies when journalists flagged disinformation, was no response at all.

Asked what the main sources of disinformation are, 46% said politicians and elected officials, followed by 'government agencies and their representatives' (25%), and State-linked troll networks (23%). 

Challenges of reporting in a pandemic

The research also revealed that seven out of 10 journalists (70%) identified the mental health impacts of reporting on the pandemic, the 'most difficult challenge', while 82% said they had experienced at least one negative emotional or psychological reaction. 

A fifth of the respondents polled also said they were experiencing more online abuse, harassment, threats or attacks, since the pandemic began, while almost half (48%) revealed their sources are afraid of retaliation for speaking to them about issues related to the pandemic.

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