The results of the research conducted by Kadir Has University supported by TÜBİTAK on “Understanding the Dissemination of Misinformation About COVID-19 in Turkey from the Perspective of Media Users and Developing Suggestions on Preventive Actions” has been announced.
In accordance with the results of the research conducted with a total of 1087 people over the age of 18 living in the city centers of 12 provinces, it has been observed that Facebook is the platform where misinformation is most frequently encountered among all social networks and TV debates were found out to be traditional media types disseminating misinformation. Misinformation disseminated through social media platforms and instant messaging applications continues to threaten public health; however, it is worth noting that more than half of social media users do not cross check the accuracy of the information they access concerning COVID-19.
About 64% of Turkey's total population which is over 80 million actively uses social media; therefore, the rate of accessing news and information on social media platforms is increasing day by day. Misinformation disseminated through social media platforms and instant messaging applications from February 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak was brought to the national agenda, continues to threaten public health.
Turkey is among the countries with the highest perception of exposure to misinformation
Kadir Has University Faculty Member/Instructor Assoc. Prof. Dr. Suncem Koçer Çamurdan says; “According to the Reuters Digital News Report published in 2018, Turkey is among the countries where social media users have the highest perception of exposure to misinformation and false news. With this study conducted by Kadir Has University, we aim to understand the dynamics in Turkey regarding the dissemination of Internet contents, misinformation and false news in image and text format about COVID-19 through social media platforms and messaging applications”.
More than half of the society does not cross check the accuracy of the information they have acquired
In accordance with the results of the research conducted with a total of 1087 people, 564 women and 523 men, media users' consumption of news and information has increased with the COVID-19 outbreak compared to the period before the pandemic, however more than half of the users do not cross check the accuracy of the information they acquire about COVID-19. It has been observed that the group that most frequently cross check the accuracy of information and news acquired about COVID-19 is the 18-29 age group; university graduates and high-income group, in terms of education and income level, were recorded as the groups that admit to have habitually cross checked the accuracy of the information they acquire.
The most common areas of encountering misinformation: Facebook and TV Debates
When evaluated from the perspective of the participants; Facebook and TV debates have been found out to be the social media platform and traditional media types respectively, where misinformation was most frequently encountered. Media users under 30 stated that they frequently encountered misinformation on Facebook; whereas the frequency of using this platform by 18-29 age group was found to be lower than other groups. It was observed that the higher the education level, the higher the frequency of encountering misinformation on platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Low-income participants were found out to be the group who were most frequently exposed to misinformation on all platforms and channels. While TV debates have emerged as the most common type of traditional media where misinformation was most frequently encountered, the subsequent items have been daytime programs and news casts.
Most trusted sources of information: Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca; Members of Turkish Medical Association and Scientific Committee
The top three sources whose statements were found out to be most trustworthy throughout the pandemic period have been Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca; members of Turkish Medical Association and Scientific Committee. The confidence for these sources’ statements has been found out to differ in accordance with the income and education level of the respondents. It was noted that as the income level increased, the confidence in Fahrettin Koca's statements about the pandemic decreased. The highest confidence rate in Fahrettin Koca’s statements about the pandemic has been reported by the lower income group whereas the lowest confidence has been reported by the higher income group respondents. Turkish Medical Association was determined as the institution whose statements were most trusted among university graduates and high-income group participants.