Shutterstock 744590860 What's the story with fake news?

What's the story with fake news?


‘Fake news’ has been a hotly-debated topic in recent years. As a result, people have become more and more wary of the information they read or hear. In Belgium, almost half of the population feels that news reports are less reliable compared to 10 years ago. Moreover, news consumers are convinced that 1 out of 3 news items contains incorrect information. These insights emerge from a recent survey conducted by Profacts. (*)

‘Fake news’ was not a term many people used a couple of years ago. More recently however, the (deliberate) misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media, has become a hotly-debated topic. In Belgium, news consumers believe that 1 out of 3 news items contains incorrect information. Furthermore, they are convinced that 11% of the news items contain incorrect information that is deliberately modified or withheld.


When asked about what aspects they consider to be important when watching/listening to news reports, reliability is and remains by far the number one criterion. The low perceived reliability of news may be partly due to the digitization where news is available through many different channels. Social media in particular is rated low in terms of reliability, especially among older people. It is also the channel that users suspect most often as a source of misinformation.

42% of social media users suspect to have received misinformation through this channel at one time’.


Digitization makes it possible to use different algorithms to customize news offerings and serve consumers content that is most relevant to their lives and preferences. When asked to what extent respondents think the online news offer that they get to see every day is based on personalization algorithms, only 50% thinks this is actually the case.

Recently, different concepts have been introduced to avoid algorithms, such as Escape your Bubble or PolitEcho. However, these services do not seem to have reached the Belgian market yet.

Knipsel Media


Even though the overall perceived reliability of media is rather low, it does not seem to have the impact one would expect since the majority of news consumers keeps using the news channel through which they were misinformed. Moreover, 20% does not take any action at all to verify the reliability of a news item. Of those who do check, the majority will consult another source.

News consumers would rather resort to the alternative channels as an addition to the ones they currently use than as a replacement. Still 1 out of 4 would use vloggers as a replacement. Alternative channels would most commonly be used to replace TV and news websites.

(*) Study conducted among 1012 news consumers, representative sample

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