PETALING JAYA: Only 17% of Malaysian consumers consider social media content to be reliable, according to the latest study by a leading market research agency, Kantar TNS.
It also found that even though Malaysians spend an average 7.2 hours online every day, they are generally sceptical of content they see online.
A total of 1,032 interviews were conducted in Malaysia from May to August for the agency’s Connected Life 2017 study.
Kantar TNS Malaysia was the gold winner for the market research agency category of Advertising + Marketing magazine’s Agency of the Year Awards 2017.
Media experts believe that the pervasive presence of false news on social media could have caused Malaysians’ scepticism towards the content on it.
“Since social media is overloaded with fake and distorted news, this scepticism is very healthy for the sake of truth and trust in Malaysia,” said Marcelo Rech, vice-president of the World Editors Forum of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
“Usually, such a high level of scepticism is also connected to a high media literacy rate.”
Communications lecturer at Monash University Malaysia, Dr Julian Hopkins, who said fake news on social media is “typically sensationalist, entertaining, simple to understand, and easy to share quickly”, cautioned people against sharing such news without checking.
“People should fact-check general news with more established institutions. Newspaper companies are generally reliable sources and there are also fact-checking websites out there.”
Another communications lecturer at the university, Dr Tan Meng Yoe, said it was good to have a healthy dose of scepticism towards news circulating on social media.
“Fake news is more visible now with social media. It doesn’t mean that fake news never existed. It’s just that with the Internet, it’s easier to carelessly pass the message on, and for it to become quite permanent.
“Also, with social media, we dare to publicly share news but don’t have the same courage to take responsibility for it when we discover that we are wrong. This leads to fake news spreading quickly with little challenge,” he said.