New study on young people and fake news for Safer Internet Day 2023

As this 2017 survey on fake news carried out by the Austrian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) firstly indicated, in 2023 online media and social networks are the most important source of information for young people on everyday topics. However, they hardly trust the information found there – this is what the Austrian SIC latest study shows.  

A group of three young people smiling while looking at their smartphones

Although social networks are the most important source of information for young people, they rate them as not very credible. Only eight per cent of the respondents rate social networks as "very credible" (2017: ten per cent). The same applies to the second most important source of information, YouTube, which is only rated as "very credible" by ten per cent. 

25 per cent find Wikipedia very credible (2017: 21 per cent). The other places in the trust ranking are occupied by the classic media radio (2023: 21 per cent, 2017: 32 per cent), television (2023: 20 per cent, 2017: 29 per cent), websites of the classic media (2023: 19 per cent, 2017: 23 per cent) as well as daily newspapers and magazines (2023: 12 per cent, 2027: 20 per cent). Particularly remarkable is the fact that classic media are judged to be more credible by young people but are used far less. 

Influencers are more important than traditional media. They are seen as "modern journalists". Already 63 per cent of young people get daily news from influencers.

In the daily use, search engines are primarily used by young people for school and job-related contexts. For private research on daily topics, search engines are only used by 48 per cent of young people. YouTube now dominates internet searches with 75 per cent and social networks with 80 per cent.   

49 per cent of the interviewed people are often unsure whether information on the internet is true. For school related issues, however, only 64 per cent of young people check the sources of information – and only if the information seems untrustworthy to them. Gut feeling is still the main guiding tool to recognise fake news. However, fact-checking knowledge is lacking. 

The majority of young people are interested in fact-checking. However, only 22 per cent of young people say they are familiar with websites for fact-checking (such as Mimikama and Correctiv). And only 12 per cent of young people use them. 54 per cent of young people said they compare information from different sources. Half of the young people say they send news on current topics unchecked; 53 per cent feel that checking information sources is arduous. For 56 per cent of 11-to-14-year-olds, parents are the first contact for questions about the truthfulness of information on the internet. The older the young people get, the more independently they act. 

In everyday life, ignoring is the most important strategy for dealing with fake news (57 per cent). 7 out of 10 young people say that it is difficult to find out whether information from the internet is true or false. A quarter of young people (25 per cent) directly call attention to people spreading false information. A similar number (24 per cent) use the reporting tools of the platform operators. 21 per cent of young people try to warn other people about fake news with the help of comments. 

About the study  

The study "Young people and misinformation on the internet" was conducted by the Institute for Youth Culture Research and Cultural Mediation and the ISPA - Internet Service Providers Austria within the framework of the EU initiative 400 young people aged 11 to 17 took part in the study. In addition, five focus group discussions were done with a total of 70 people between the ages of 13 and 19. The study (in German) can be downloaded here on the website of the Austrian Safer Internet Centre

Find out more about the work of the Austrian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.  

Find out more about the annual global celebration of Safer Internet Day at

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