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55% internet users scared of airing political views: report

Users were concerned that expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities

Users were concerned that expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities  

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Report from the Reuters Institute shows that online news and social media has outpaced print among English-speaking Indian Internet users

As many as 55% of sampled English Internet users were concerned that expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities, an India digital report prepared by the Reuters Institute showed.

“These high levels of concern could be based in part on recent events in India. Since 2012 at least 17 people have been arrested for posting material that was considered offensive or threatening to a politician,” the report said on Monday.

As many as 68% of those surveyed identified smart phones as their main device for online news with 52% stating that they got their news from Facebook. WhatsApp (52%), Instagram (26%), Twitter (18%), and Facebook Messenger (16%) were the other sources of news.

“Online news generally (56%), and social media specifically (28%) have outpaced print (16%) as the main source of news among respondents under 35, whereas respondents over 25 still mix online and offline media to a greater extent,” the Reuters Institute report said.

“The fact that our survey covers only English speakers with Internet access is key here; the number of people accessing news via print and television will be higher fore regional language news consumers…though as mobile web use spreads we expect to see this change in the years ahead,” it argued.

Respondents overall had low trust in news overall (36%) but expressed higher levels of trust in news search (45%) and social media (34%). As many as 57% of those surveyed were worried whether the news they consumed was fake or real.

The report warned that in a competitive market for online advertising, with audiences resorting to ad blocking, Indian publishers reliance on advertising put them to risk.

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

“This suggests that Indian publishers who can put together a convincing content offering around great journalism, and deliver it in a compelling way, have an opportunity to reach a significant number of potential subscribers,” the report added.

The Reuters Institute said that 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, skews male, and are more likely to live in cities than the wider Indian population and our findings only concern our sample, and thus cannot be taken to be more broadly representative.”

The report was prepared with support from The Hindu Group, the Indian Express, The Quint and the Press Trust of India.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 12:16:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/report-on-indians-digital-news-habits-points-to-low-trust-fake-news-worries/article26633193.ece

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