A recent study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford suggests that the majority of Indian citizens trust the information they receive on WhatsApp.
The study, part of the institute’s Trust in News project, examines “the relationship between trust in news and how people think about news on digital platforms”, focusing on Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and YouTube. The study is based on survey data in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A key finding is that in all four countries, news on Google is trusted almost on par with news in general. However, news on other platforms is viewed with more scepticism. In India, according to the study, “trust was also significantly higher across all domains,” compared to the other three countries.
Indians Trust News on WhatsApp
According to the study, 77% of respondents in India said they trust the media in general. Meanwhile, 54% said they trust the information they receive on WhatsApp, 51% on Google and YouTube, 41% on Facebook, 27% on Instagram, 25% on Twitter and 15% on TikTok.
The study also showed that 70% of those who had a favourable opinion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi said they trusted information on WhatsApp, compared to 58% of those who had an unfavourable opinion of him.
Almost half of the Indian respondents (48%) said they received the news online at least once a day, which was the lowest figure among the four countries that were part of the study. Meanwhile, 34% of Indians said they never get news from online sources, which is by far the highest figure among the four countries.
Respondents were also asked about negative and positive perceptions of journalists. In India, 58% of respondents think most journalists manipulate the public to serve the agenda of powerful politicians, while 57% think journalists are more concerned with attracting attention than reporting facts.
However, 57% of respondents in India also believe that journalists independently verify the information they report, while 53% believe that they try to prevent their opinions from biasing the news.
News about politics is seen as particularly suspect, and the platforms are considered by many to be controversial places for political conversation – at least for those most interested in politics.
People who use platforms for news daily
What is WhatsApp university
WhatsApp University is a pejorative term that refers to fake news and misinformation spread in India through WhatsApp. The term was coined by Ravish Kumar, senior editor of NDTV India. The phrase has gained popular meme status and been the subject of stand-up comics
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