While Pakistanis may seem skeptical of everything from polio vaccines to foreign aid, that distrusting nature may actually prove useful in the online space. In a global survey conducted by international research company IPSOS, it was revealed that Pakistanis are the most resistant to fake news appearing on social media, due to their deep suspicion of online content.
The survey polled 25,000 respondents from 25 countries, to assess their views of online information, and misinformation. Some of the most revealing insights:
- A staggering 86 percent of the respondents (over four in five) believed that they’ve been exposed to fake news and nearly nine in ten (86 percent) reported having believed at least once that the information in question was true.
- The United States received more blame than any other country for spreading fake news, with 35% of respondents saying fake news originates from the US, while 12 percent blamed Russia, and 9% blamed China.
- However, majority of Pakistanis (54 percent) believed India was responsible for spreading fake news in their country.
- Egypt was the most vulnerable to fake news.
- Out of 949 Pakistani respondents, 73 percent attributed their skepticism of fake news to their own government while 69 percent blamed foreign governments for it. A whopping 76 percent blamed the social media companies.
Since fake news is a global phenomenon, Pakistan needs to look for ways to check the spread of misinformation that can have ruinous impact on our already volatile socio-political environment. While it is heartening that the survey portrays Pakistan positively, we should leverage on the opportunity to give further awareness on the issue rather than engaging in self-complacence.
The recent controversy around the polio eradication campaign triggered by a fake news in KP and the lynching of Mashal Khan over allegations of blasphemy are painful reminders of the damage fake news can inflict. We should be better prepared to avoid a repeat of similar tragedies.