Friday, August 20, 2010

Digital Futures Project: Who Trusts Digital Information?


The Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism created the World Internet Project, which includes the Digital Future Project and similar studies across the globe.
The recently released 2010 Digital Futures Project looks at a variety of trends, including the public's lack of "trust" in information online. Maybe that is the angle librarians need to take -- how they can teach students how to evaluate information so they can determine which sources of info they can trust. Here are highlights from "Media Use and Trust" section of the report:
  • Views about Sources of Information and Entertainment:In the current Digital Future Project, a large majority of respondents age 17 and older said that the Internet was an important or very important source of information for them -- higher than the figure reported for television, newspapers, or radio. Comparing the views of users about the importance of entertainment sources, television ranks highest, with 79% of users saying it is an important or very important entertainment source for them, compared to the Internet, radio, and newspapers. (Page 67)
  • Reliability of Information Online: Views of Internet Users: For the third year in a row, a declining percentage of Internet users said that most or all of the information online is reliable. (Page 71)
  • Online Information: Reliability and Accuracy of Frequently-Visited Web Sites: Internet users have much more faith in the Web sites they visit regularly than they do in information online overall, but that faith continues to decline. (Page 73)
  • Web Sites: Which Are Reliable and Accurate, and Which Are Not?:The percentage of Internet users who said that most or all of the information posted by individuals, governments, and established media is reliable and accurate rose slightly in the current Digital Future Study. (Page 75)
  • Social Networking Sites: Reliability and Accuracy: A new question for the Digital Future Project found that only 15% of users said that most or all of the information on social networking sites is reliable and accurate. (Page 81)
  • Search Engines: Reliability and Accuracy: A majority of Internet users said that most or all of the information provided by search engines such as Google is reliable and accurate. However, 12% of users said that only a small portion or none of the information provided by search engines is reliable and accurate, up slightly from 10% in 2008.(Page 82)
  • Trust in the Internet: Forty-two percent of respondents said they have some trust or a lot of trust in the Internet. Fourteen percent of respondents said they have no trust in the Internet. (Page 84)
  • TV Viewing and Time-Shifting: Time-shifting of video viewing is increasing, but only marginally. (Page 86)
  • Trends in Online Media Use:Internet users continue to report considerable time each week using a variety of online media, but in the current study, use of the two most popular online media declined. (Page 88)
  • Twitter, E-books, Internet Video, and Audio Podcasts: In several new questions for this year's Digital Future Study, Internet users were asked about their use of media that have been growing in popularity, including Twitter, e-books, and audio podcasts. Among other responses, the study found that 1/2 of those who go online have used free micro-blogs such as Twitter or Facebook. (Page 89)
  • Would You Miss The Print Edition of Your Newspaper? While Internet users report that they devote significant amounts of time to reading online newspapers, 62% of users who read newspapers offline said they would miss the print edition of their newspaper if it ceased to exist -- an increase for the second year in a row. However, 22% of users who read newspapers said they would not miss the print edition of their newspaper, down from 24% in 2008. Page 91)
  • Does Online Content Lead to Canceled Print Subscriptions? Even though large percentages of users who read newspapers would miss the print edition of the publication if it was no longer available (see the previous question), a notable percentage of Internet users – 18% -- said they stopped a subscription for a newspaper or magazine because they now get the same or related content online, a decline from 22% in 2008. (Page 91)
  • Cell Phones and Text Messages: Text messaging by cell phone users has more than doubled in only two years; overall, cell phone users who send text messages average 38 messages per day, compared to 16 in 2007. More specifically, text messaging is almost exclusively a medium for young cell phone users; the number of messages sent per day is by far the highest among those under 18 -- 81 per day in the current study, up from 33 per day in 2007. (Page 99)
  • Posting Information Online: Blogs, Photos, and Maintaining Personal Web Pages: Content creation and distribution by Internet users on a blog, through a display of photos, or on a personal Web page, continues to increase substantially, while the percentage of respondents maintaining a personal Web site has remained generally stable for three years. (Page 100)

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