As part of the special survey for the Youth, Information, Media (JIM) study series, a representative online survey was conducted with twelve to 19-year-olds throughout Germany from June 8 to 17, 2022. The aim was to record individual ways of obtaining information and how people perceive and deal with fake news and hate speech online. The study results are available as a chart report at www.mpfs.de.
Fake news is defined by young people as false information that is deliberately presented as true and is disseminated primarily on the Internet. The majority of respondents perceive Fake News at least occasionally, especially in relation to Corona and public figures. Whether a piece of news is true or not is measured above all by whether other sources also report it. When in doubt, one in two asks their parents whether questionable content can be true. For young people, labels such as a blue check mark or the number of followers are not really a sign of credibility per se. The source of the message is important. Despite the perception of fake news, hardly anything is actively done against fake news. Ignoring is the most common strategy.
Three quarters of young people are at least rarely aware of hate speech on the Internet. Just under one in five admits to having posted a derogatory or insulting post themselves. Despite its relevance, a quarter of young people have not yet dealt with the topic of hate speech at school. As with Fake News, Hate Speech also shows a discrepancy with action, despite triggered emotions such as anger, sadness and the motivation to do something. Hate speech is often ignored, especially if no one from one's own circle of acquaintances is affected. In the case of hate speech in a personal environment, young people are most likely to process it with people close to them, block senders or ignore them.
In view of the high relevance of these problems to everyday life, the in-depth study shows on the one hand the importance of dealing competently with problematic content online and promoting media literacy among adolescents and young adults. On the other hand, however, it also shows the responsibility of providers to set up hotlines and age-appropriate communication platforms and to actively combat fake news and hate speech themselves and curb their spread.
The Medienpädagogischer Forschungsverbund Südwest is a cooperation of the Landesanstalt für Kommunikation Baden-Württemberg (LFK) and the Medienanstalt Rheinland-Pfalz. The study was conducted in cooperation with Südwestrundfunk (SWR).