Misinformation concern on the rise in New Zealand, says report

Most New Zealanders have been exposed to misinformation and are increasingly concerned about it, according to a survey by the Classification Office. The internet and social media are identified as key sources – while experts and government are trusted more than news media. The Chief Censor says it shows the need for urgent action but that call could also prompt pushback.

The national survey of more than 2300 people aged over 16 concluded misinformation is “undermining trust.”

The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa found 82 percent of those surveyed were “somewhat or very concerned” about the spread of misinformation in New Zealand and a majority of respondents thought “more should be done about the problem”.

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False facts mistaken for reality by about half of New Zealanders
About half of New Zealanders have at least one belief based on misinformation and one in five hold at least three false beliefs.

That’s according to a new survey by the Chief Censor’s office.

The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa found 82 percent of those surveyed were worried about the spread of misinformation.

About 75 percent thought false information about Covid-19 posed a serious threat to New Zealand.

Chief Censor David Shanks said the research aimed to raise awareness and stimulate debate on how to address false information.

Misinformation challenge demands a more effective response
Yesterday a report was released that shines a light on New Zealanders’ concerns about misinformation online. A stronger response from all parts of New Zealand society and government is needed to tackle this challenge (and related ones) effectively.

The Classification Office has undertaken research to understand the perceptions of misinformation and what influence it is having on New Zealanders. The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa.

The Chief Executive of InternetNZ, Jordan Carter, says real harms can come from misinformation. “This research adds to the base of insight available to everyone who is concerned about the problem of misinformation, and I thank the Classification Office for conducting it.

Covid 19 coronavirus: Half of Kiwis believe in some form of misinformation – survey
Half of Kiwis believe in some form of Covid-related misinformation and almost 20 per cent hold at least three false beliefs, a new survey says.

The findings come in a new report from Te Mana Whakaatu, the Government’s Classification Office, by examining the landscape of virus-related misinformation in Aotearoa.

New Zealanders talk of relationship breakdowns with family and friends as a result of misinformation in new chief censor survey
New Zealanders have revealed the damaging impact misinformation and conspiracy theories have on their lives in a new survey.

A survey of more than 2300 people over the age of 16, conducted by the Classification Office and Colmar Brunton, found close family relationships and friendships have broken down due to misinformation, something a large majority believe is being spread more often over time.

How do we protect ourselves from misinformation?
New research has found half of New Zealand holds at least one belief based on misinformation. The survey of 2300 people has also found 82 percent are somewhat or very concerned about the spread of misinformation. The chief censor David Shanks says harm can come from basing decisions on faulty beliefs — but he doesn’t think his office has a role to play except for on the most extreme claims. University of Waikato epistemologist associate professor Tracy Bowell speaks to Māni Dunlop about what we can do to protect ourselves from misinformation.

Half of Kiwis hold beliefs linked to misinformation
A landmark study of New Zealanders has found most people are concerned about misinformation and want to see something done about it, but a sizeable minority hold multiple beliefs associated with misinformation.

The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa [report]
The research The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa provides insights from a nationally representative survey of 2,301 people aged 16 years and over. This page provides a summarised version of the key findings.

Misinformation in Aotearoa: Aotearoa not immune to the global rise of misinformation, report says. [news release]
New Zealanders are worried about the growing spread of misinformation and the harm it is causing our communities, according to new Classification Office research released today, The Edge of the Infodemic: Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa.

This nationally representative survey of over 2,300 New Zealanders (including people aged 16 and over) offers a vital snapshot of the impact misinformation is having in Aotearoa, said Chief Censor David Shanks.

Key findings are:

  • Exposure to misinformation is common, and concern is widespread.
  • Misinformation is undermining trust – and the internet plays a key role.
  • Everyone is affected by the spread of misinformation.
  • New Zealanders think something should be done.

“We know that misinformation – at its worst – can cause real harms to individuals, whānau, communities and society. We’ve seen it in white supremacy groups, the riots at the US Capitol, and in our own backyard with the attacks on 5G towers. We must take the findings of this report and meet this moment with meaningful action, because New Zealanders are telling us this matters,” said Mr Shanks.

“Amid a wave of misinformation over the past few years, we needed to better understand how Kiwis felt about misinformation and what they think should be done. By doing so we hope to start a conversation about what better, more inclusive solutions might look like,” said Mr Shanks.

“Addressing misinformation doesn’t mean telling people what to think, or stifling debate with more censorship – but Kiwis want to know they can trust the news and information they’re getting, and government can work together with communities to combat misinformation. We must look at better ways for government, community, and online platforms to come together to prevent harm.

“Each of us can also take steps to stop the spread of misinformation – actions such as looking at the source of an article before sharing it, questioning what perspectives are represented in it, and feeling comfortable to ask someone we trust what they think when encountering something we’re not sure about,” said Mr Shanks.

The research aims to raise awareness about the issues and create opportunities for open conversations about how to address misinformation. This work can support cross-government collaboration on potential policy and regulatory responses, including a broad media regulatory review, aid education initiatives, and develop information and resources for the public.

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