More than half of Irish people struggle to tell difference between real and fake news
More than half (57%) of people in Ireland struggle to tell the difference between real news and fake news, according to Deloitte Ireland’s latest Digital Consumer Trends report on digital usage and entertainment.
A total of 85% of people feel that fake news is a major problem today, and 74% said they rely on multiple sources for news and information.
The report also found that 42% of people in Ireland stopped using at least one social media platform, either permanently or temporarily, in the last year, with 21% doing so because it did not make them feel good about themselves and 5% doing so because they were being harassed or bullied.
Formerly known as the Global Mobile Consumer Survey, the Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends report is an annual survey of 1,000 consumers in Ireland, aged between 18 and 75, which explores their digital usage and attitudes towards technology.
Access to connected devices
It found 87% of respondents to the survey in Ireland have access to at least one connected device, with access to connected devices increasing across the board: 94% have access to a smartphone in 2021 (up from 90% in 2020); 61% have access to a smart TV (up from 58%); 38% have access to a games console (up from 34%); 28% have access to voice-assisted speakers (up from 22%); and 24% have access to a smart watch (up from 16%).
Smartphones are the most-used device, with 94% of respondents using them daily, followed by smart TVs (79%); smart watches (69%); laptops (65% – down from 76% in 2020); desktop computers (60%); voice-assisted speakers (56%); tablets (53%); wireless headphones / earphones (50%); eReaders (32%); and games consoles (31%). 47% use standard mobile phones (non-smartphones) on a daily basis.
Three-quarters (74%) of respondents have access to subscription-based video-on-demand (VOD) services, an increase of 11% year-on-year. Access has increased significantly in the over-65s age group, up from 43% in 2020 to 57% in 2021. Netflix is the overwhelming leader in streaming services, with 65% of all respondents having access to it (up from 56% in 2020), followed by Amazon Prime Video (26% – up from 18%), Disney+ (24% – up from 19%), NOW TV (10% – up from 8%) and YouTube Premium (7% – up from 6%).
Further, 16% of respondents cancelled a paid subscription to a video streaming service in the last 12 months. Of those who cancelled, the most commonly cited reason is a lack of use (29%), followed by a lack of suitable content (21%). Another 16% cited spending too much money on all their subscriptions and 15% cancelled because the free trial or discount period had ended. While 20% cancelled their subscription within one day of deciding to do so, 21% did so within a week.
It also found 40% of respondents would be happy to watch advertisements ranging from five to 10 minutes per hour if they were offered a reduced or no subscription fee on a video-on-demand streaming service, while 24% would prefer to pay the full subscription fee to avoid watching ads, a decrease of 9% from 2020.
The survey found 29% of all respondents look at their phone more than 50 times a day, down from 33% in 2020. This increases to 37% in the 18-24 age group. That figure jumped to more than 100 times a day for 12% of all respondents, and 21% among 18-24s. Men check their phones on average 49 times per day, while women do so on average 58 times per day, both decreasing year-on-year.
It also revealed that 74% of all respondents check their phone within the first 30 minutes of waking up, while 37% do so within the first five minutes of their day. This figure increased to 51% among 18-24-year-olds.
Instant messaging apps (61%) and social networks (58%) are the most popular activities across all connected devices, followed by reading the news (53%); watching short videos, live posts or stories (40%); streaming or playing music (33%); watching live TV (32%); streaming films or TV series (30%); playing games (30%); and watching live streams (26%).
Mobile phones are the preferred device for checking bank balances and making online searches. Overall, laptops are the preferred device for browsing shopping websites and making online purchases, though mobile phones are preferred by the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups for these activities. TVs are the preferred device across all age groups for watching content live or via streaming or catch-up services. Games consoles are now the most popular device for gaming, overtaking mobile phones which were the most popular device for gaming in 2020.
Online shopping (for items other than groceries) has seen the biggest increase in uptake over the last two years, with 33% of all respondents doing more online shopping now than they were before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is followed by streaming films or TV series (29% are doing this more now than they were before the start of the pandemic); online banking (28%); reading the news (27%); watching videos online (26%); communicating with neighbours and their local community via apps (18%); listening to podcasts (18%); online grocery shopping (13%); studying online (11%); and taking online fitness classes (9%).
Respondents are increasingly having over-the-phone appointments with health practitioners (20% are doing this more now than they were before the start of the pandemic); monitoring their health via devices (13%); and having video appointments with healthcare practitioners (8%).
Social media and fake news
“A huge number of respondents – over two-fifths – stopped using one or more social media platforms, either temporarily or permanently, in the last year,” said Daryl Hanberry, partner and head of the technology, media and telecommunications industry group at Deloitte.
“A perception of too much fake news and the content being too negative were among the top reasons given for this. There was also a significant amount who felt that it wasn’t making them feel good about themselves along with a small, but still significant, amount who were experiencing bullying or harassment. With a massive 85% of all respondents believing that fake news is a major problem – and 57% feeling that it is difficult to tell the difference between fake news and real news – the recent announcement that a new media commission is to be established and a national online safety commissioner appointed, is very timely.”
While 76% of respondents use social media and instant messaging apps on a daily basis across all devices, over two-fifths (42%) of respondents have stopped using at least one social media platform, either temporarily or permanently, over the last year. Of those who did, the most common reason cited for doing so is boredom with content (41%), followed by too much fake news (30%); the content being too negative (30%); spending too much time on the platform (25%); privacy concerns (23%); because it didn’t make them feel good about themselves (21%); and that they were being harassed or bullied on the platform(s) (5%).
Moreover, 85% of all respondents feel that fake news is a major problem today, with 74% relying on multiple sources for news and information, in order to get a full picture. The survey found 65% believe that news from traditional news providers is usually trustworthy and 16% believe that news from social media platforms is usually trustworthy; this increases to 28% among 18-24-year-olds. Over half (57%) of all respondents feel that it is difficult to tell what is fake news and what is real.
“The phone remains our preferred device for checking bank balances and online searches and it is very close to being the preferred device for online shopping,” said John Kehoe, audit partner at Deloitte Ireland. “The pandemic has led to changes in what we do on our phones, with respondents increasingly using their phones to shop, bank and attend medical appointments.
“In last year’s survey, the phone was the most popular device for gaming; however, in the current year, the games console has overtaken the phone across most age groups, which may be impacted by significant console releases in late 2020. When it comes to living room entertainment, the TV reigns supreme across all age groups for watching TV and films. So, while smartphone penetration has grown, the increased amount of time spent at home over the last two years would appear to have boosted the popularity of more traditional devices for these activities.”