Survey: Over sixty percent of Czechs encounter fake news, twelve percent believe it

Respondents were polled about recent fake news stories involving coronavirus being developed in a lab and 5G transmitters affecting health.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 18.05.2021 11:19 (updated on 18.05.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The majority of Czechs are being exposed to disinformation, according to a new study from the Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism (NFNZ). The study, made in cooperation with the Nielsen Atmosphere research agency, showed that 66 percent of respondents have encountered disinformation online, an 11 percent increase on last year.

The survey showed that Czech internet users encountered disinformation in a variety of ways: some came across it by chance; others in content shared by a contact; while others read it in the comments sections of social networks and news websites. The survey also aimed to track the spread of fake news stories disseminated by so-called “alternative news sources” in the Czech Republic. 

Analysts maintain that there is a small core of about 12-16 percent of people who believe in disinformation and conspiracy theories. “Amongst them, there is the prevalence of an older generation, residents of small and medium-sized towns, and people with low incomes,” said Josef Šlerka, managing director of NFNZ and Head of New Media Studies at Charles University.

The study polled respondents on several fake news stories that have gained traction over the past year, including erroneous suggestions that coronavirus was artificially created in a laboratory, 5G transmitters have a negative impact on human health, and illegal migration of Muslims to Europe is directed by the EU.

Regarding the proposition that coronavirus was artificially created in a laboratory funded by Bill Gates, only 16 percent of those polled agreed with the statement, another 40 percent labelled it deliberate misinformation. When asked about the claim that 5G transmitters have a negative effect on human health, 16 percent agreed with the statement and 55 percent disagreed, while 29 percent did not express an opinion. 

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However, a larger share of those polled (28 percent) agreed with the proposition that illegal migration of Muslims to Europe is deliberately guided by the EU. A slightly larger number of respondents (29 percent) identified this as deliberate misinformation.

The proposition that disinformation against the Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian governments is sponsored by US financier George Soros failed to resonate with the audience sampled. While only 36 percent of respondents recalled seeing this story, 12 of those sampled said that they believed it, while another 30 percent dismissed it as disinformation.

The poll was conducted on a sample of 1,000 Czechs over the age of 15 during October and November 2020. A majority of those surveyed (62 per cent) said that they did not believe the news.

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