According to a report, social media news makes Indians skeptical about political beliefs.

According to a digital report by the Reuters Institute India, up to 55% of selected English internet users feared that expressing their political views online would get them in trouble with the authorities.

“Recent developments in India may have contributed to these high levels of anxiety.” According to the study, “at least 17 people have been imprisoned since 2012 for sharing content deemed disrespectful or threatening to a legislator”.

68% of respondents said their primary source of online information was their smartphone, with 52% saying they acquired their information from Facebook. WhatsApp (52%) was the most popular news source, followed by Instagram (26%), Twitter (18%) and Facebook Messenger (16%).

Online news in general (56%), and social media in particular (28%) overtook print media (16%) as the main source of information among respondents under 35, while respondents over the age of 25 mix online and offline media even more,” says the Reuters Institute report.

Overall, respondents had low trust in news (36%), but expressed higher levels of trust in news research (45%) and social media (34%). As many as 57% of respondents questioned whether the news they were consuming was fake or real.

“The fact that our survey only covers English speakers with internet access is key here; the number of people accessing information via print and television will be higher for consumers of regional language information…although as mobile web usage becomes more widespread, we expect to see this change in years to come,” he explained.

The report warns that in a competitive online advertising market, where the public resorts to ad blocking, Indian publishers’ reliance on advertising puts them at risk.

Significantly, the survey showed considerable willingness to pay for online news in the future. “Of our respondents who are not currently paying, 39% said they were at least ‘somewhat likely’ (much more than users in the US) and 9% said they were ‘very likely’ to pay for information online in the future.”

“This suggests that Indian publishers who can build a compelling content offering around great journalism and deliver it compellingly have the potential to reach a significant number of potential subscribers,” the report adds. The Reuters Institute said the report was based on data from a survey of English-speaking online news users in India. “Our respondents are generally more affluent, have higher levels of formal education, bias towards men and are more likely to live in cities than the wider Indian population and our results relate only to our sample and therefore cannot be seen as more broadly representative.”

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  • According to a report, social media news makes Indians skeptical about political beliefs.
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