The majority of Indian citizens trust news that they receive on WhatsApp, a study released on Thursday by the Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found.
The study analysed responses of citizens in India, Brazil, the United Kingdom and United States on questions about trust on news outlets and social media platforms. It sought to examine “the relationship between trust in news and how people think about news on digital platforms”.
According to the study, 77% of respondents in India said that they trusted the news media in general. Meanwhile, 54% of them said that they trusted news that they receive on WhatsApp, 51% on Google and YouTube, 41% on Facebook, 27% on Instagram, 25% on Twitter and 15% on TikTok.
The study also showed that 70% of those who held a favourable opinion about Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that they trust news on WhatsApp, as compared to 58% of those who held unfavourable opinions about him.
Nearly half of the Indian respondents (48%) said that they get news online at least once a day, which was the lowest figure among the four countries that were part of the study. Meanwhile, 34% of Indians said that they never get news from online sources, which is by far the highest figure among the four countries.
46% of the respondents in India said that they use WhatsApp for receiving news on a daily basis, as compared to 58% in Brazil.
Among Indians who are politically interested, most respondents (69%) said that they trusted YouTube for news, while TikTok was the least trusted platform for this purpose, at 24%. However, among Indians who were not politically interested, the most trusted source was WhatsApp (46%), while TikTok had the lowest level of trust (13%).
The respondents were also asked about negative and positive perceptions about journalists. In India, 58% of the respondents believed that most journalists manipulate the public to serve the agenda of powerful politicians, while 57% believed that journalists care more about getting attention than reporting facts.
However, 57% of respondents in India also believed that journalists independently verify the information that they report, while 53% believed that they try to prevent their opinions from slanting the news.
The study found that across all four countries, most citizens say that they largely do not use social media platforms to receive news.
“For most platforms, people are more likely to say they use them to connect with other people in their lives or for entertainment or to pass the time rather than to find out information about current affairs,” the report said.