Australians Want More News, Less Misinformation in Their Social Media Feeds

New research from The Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology has shown that a majority of Australians want social media companies to prioritise journalism from news sites, limit the spread of misinformation and be more transparent about how they choose what content their users see.

The research is being released as representatives from Facebook prepare to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Economics’ inquiry into the Federal Government’s proposed news media bargaining code today.

The Centre for Responsible Technology surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,003 Australians on 14 and 15 January 2021 about the responsibility of social media companies when it comes to the content published on their platforms.

Key results:

  • Three in five Australians (62%) agree that social media companies should prioritise journalism from news websites in user feeds.
  • Four in five Australians (81–84%) agree that social media companies should:
    • take steps to stop the spread of misinformation.
    • be transparent about the way their algorithms influence users’ feeds.
    • be more active in blocking people who breach codes of conduct.
  • Three in four Australians (75–78%) agree that social media companies should:
    • be held accountable for content posted on their platforms.
    • ban anonymous accounts.

“Australia is at a critical juncture. Now is the time to decide whether we want to surrender our public square to Big Tech or whether we will put in place rules to support fact-based, civic discourse,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

“The Government’s news media bargaining code is a vital step in valuing high quality, fact-based media. The eyes of the world will be watching to see whether Australia stands firm in the face of pressure from these global corporations or whether we falter at the last hurdle.

“The submissions from Big Tech to the Senate inquiry show a naivety about the way that their business models have distorted public debate and weakened democracy.

“Social media giants have an unprecedented level of control over our public conversation and need to recognise the value of the news content that is published on their platforms.”

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