Published on 28 Jan 2022

Many in Singapore confident they can spot fake news but may not actually be able to: Study

The Straits Times, page B5 and online

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There is a disconnect between how confident people here are in spotting fake news and their ability to actually do so amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to findings from a study released on Friday (Jan 28).

About half of the people polled here - 48 to 53 per cent - said they could tell if a piece of information on social media was true or false. But some three-quarters - 69 to 76 per cent - admitted they had unknowingly shared fake news, according to the study by the Centre for Information Integrity and the Internet (IN-cube) at NTU. This is a concern because confident people might end up believing information they come across that they do not have the ability to figure out is true or not, said Assoc Prof Edson Tandoc Jr, director of IN-cube.

Another implication of the findings, Asst Prof Edmund Lee, IN-cube's assistant director, is that digital literacy here can be improved. “This speaks to the need to educate people on how to find credible information,” said Prof Lee. The IN-cube study sought to understand Internet use in Singapore over time and polled between 420 and 1,610 Singapore residents online, aged 21 and above.

The surveys were conducted in December 2020, July 2021 and December 2021. On why some people share fake news without realising it, the research team said it could be due to how fake news tends to stir people's feelings, or a "better safe than sorry" attitude that has been found among older people. The pandemic could have also affected how people consume news. The study found that people did not use social media as much as the local news sites of newspapers and television to get news.