Social media are generally used by Italian citizens in combination with other information sources but there are, however, 4 and a half million Italians who are informed only on social networks and who are particularly exposed to fake news, which end up influencing their vision of the world and influencing their choices. It is one of the strategic data that emerged from the Censis-Ital Communications Permanent Observatory on Communication Agencies in Italy and presented today. From the analysis it emerges that 14 and a half million Italians use Facebook to get news equal to 30.1% of 14-80 year olds and with shares that reach 41.2% among graduates, 39.5% in subjects aged between 30 and 44, and 33% of women. And there is not only Facebook: 12.6% of the population acquires information on YouTube (and the share is 18% among young people) and 3% on Twitter (5% among the youngest).
If the web during the pandemic allowed Italians to build a new digital everyday life, there are, however, the contradictory aspects of using the network, some of which have a direct impact on information and fake news. 55.1% of Italians are convinced that digital technology foments hatred, resentment, conflict, with shares reaching 58.9% among women and 58.4% among young people under 34; and 22.6% are afraid of falling victim to haters. From the Observatory it emerges thatand Covid-19 has drawn attention to the advantages of digital technologies, but has also highlighted the risks c
they nestle in an unfiltered, proliferating, disordered communication, which has the epicenter of the danger of disinformation and the circulation of fake news on the web. 86.4% of Italians know that to have quality information it is better to rely on paper and online newspapers, radio and television where professionals work, rather than social networks, where anyone is free to produce and disseminate news . It is no coincidence that 74.5% of Italians think that television is very or quite reliable, while only 34.3% consider social networks to be reliable. According to Attilio Lombardi, founder of Ital Communications, “the pandemic has plastically highlighted all the advantages of digital technology, at the same time highlighting the danger of getting information on social networks”.
An unexpected event such as the Covid-19 Pandemic has therefore triggered the demand for information at a global level and the analysis of the Censis-Ital Communications Permanent Observatory on Communication Agencies in Italy recalls that a recent Eurobarometer survey found that 61% of European citizens believe that the most reliable source of information on vaccines are virologists, doctors and health personnel, but among the no vax the share drops to 32%; 44% of EU citizens rely on what the national health authority communicates, but among the no vax the share is 12%.
10% of those who are not vaccinated place trust in websites for information on vaccines and 8% in social networks against 5% of the population. It is significant that 41% of those who have decided not to get vaccinated do not consider any information sources to be reliable. Over half of the Italians (54.2%) consider the media presence of experts in the various fields of medicine to be positive. The judgments are negative for the remaining 45.8%, as virologists and epidemiologists have created confusion and disorientation (34.4%) or were even harmful, because they caused alarm (11.4%). In this sense, 86.8% of Italians report that news that travels on the web should be subjected to more stringent rules and controls, to guarantee the user and the quality of the information, calling into question the managers of social networks. The most urgent intervention to stem the proliferation of fake news on the web, reported by 56.2% of Italians, is to provide for more severe penalties for those who deliberately spread false news again underlines the Permanent Censis-Ital Communications Observatory on Communication Agencies.
“One of the most significant data from the Censis-Ital Communications Observatory on communication agencies in Italy – comments Lombardi – is that according to which 4.5 million Italians get information only on these digital platforms. the risk is to take refuge in a sort of closed space in which news is learned only on the basis of one’s own tendencies and inclinations, to the detriment of the ability to discern what is happening around us. The function of communication agencies is therefore fundamental, as they play the role of guarantor of the quality and reliability of information flows, because they use verified and high-profile news production and distribution channels “.
Finally, for Massimiliano Valerii, general manager of Censis, “users must be free to browse the web, but they must be protected from fake news and disinformation, which impact on individuals and the community. The pandemic has triggered a communicative infodemic that has also fueled false information on the disease and vaccines, resulting in behaviors that have a decisive impact on the progress of infections. What happened reveals that rules and professionals are also needed on the web to ensure good communication “.