Misinformation on social media is seen as the main threat to democracy, and digital election scams abound, from robocalls to phishing emails to unwanted microtargeting
According to a September survey, 61% of Americans think the upcoming election will be either "Rigged" or "Free but not entirely fair". The main concern over election interference is misinformation on social media, a fear raised by 50% of the population.
According to a September survey, 55% of Americans say they either know or believe they've encountered an election-related scam with fake political news and robocalls ranked as the most common scam attempts.
SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new study has revealed that only 24% of Americans have confidence that the upcoming Presidential Elections will be “Free and Fair”, with 50% of the population viewing misinformation on social media as the main interference. The research, commissioned by cybersecurity company Avira, was compiled from a September survey which ran in the United States, Germany and Hong Kong; the full report can be read at: https://www.avira.com/en/elections-and-digital-privacy-report
Key Report Findings:
Only 24% of Americans believe the 2020 elections will be “Free and Fair”, with 50% seeing misinformation on social media as the main interference in upcoming elections.
59% of Americans have received unwanted, direct communication from political candidates.
55% believe they’ve been met with an election-related scam.
61% say wireless carriers should block political text messages as spam.
64% feel parties should not be able to tailor political advertising based on digital usage patterns.
58% are more concerned with protecting their political conversations via digital devices in this election than they were during the last election.
“The unfortunate truth is, there are criminals in the world that take advantage of pivotal moments, such as national elections, to bribe, intimidate and fool people online to make a profit,” said Travis Witteveen, CEO of Avira. “Our survey shows that people are becoming more aware of these threats – such as election scams and misinformation – but the cyber community has more work to do to help people across the world understand how to protect themselves online.”
Election Scams and Unwanted Communication
In addition to social media concerns, the majority of Americans say they’ve received unwanted communication from political candidates (59%) and believe they’ve been met with an election-related scam (55%), with fake news being the most reported, followed by robocalls.
“In August alone, Americans received an average of nearly 120 million robocalls each day, with scams – such as identity theft and illegal payment solicitations – approaching half of these calls,” said Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, a US-based provider of call protection services. “The presidential election, especially at a time where the country is so politically divided, is a prime time for scam callers.”
Americans also view political text messages as spam, and 61% believe that wireless carriers should block these texts as such.
An Increased Concern from Previous Elections
Americans are also becoming more concerned with protecting their political conversations online. According to the survey, 58% of Americans say they are more concerned in protecting these conversations today than they were during the last election. The most concerned about protecting these online conversations are those working in the tech industry.
Likewise, while microtargeting is common practice today, 63% of Americans feel political parties should not be able to tailor political advertising based on digital usage patterns.
Sharing Fake News is a Problem – but Not My Problem
While the large majority of Americans see misinformation and fake news as a hindrance in the upcoming elections, very few believe they play a role in its dissemination. Approximately 51% of Americans disagree they have shared what turned out to be fake news, and only 12% totally agree that they shared news that turned out to be fake. Roughly 72% of people also agree they check the credibility of the news before resharing it.
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