55% English Speaking Netizens Afraid Of Posting Political Views Online, Reveals Study
A Reuters Institute report, which looks at how people who read the news in English in India, suggested that 55% of those who were surveyed fear expressing their political views on the Internet because it could “get them into trouble with the authorities”.
What the report found
The report found that although there is a high level of engagement among Indian users with the news, it is “accompanied by high levels of concern about the possible consequences of expressing political views on the internet”.
The respondents were asked to consider whether they tend to think carefully before expressing their political views on the Internet because they are afraid that they might get into trouble with authorities, because it could make friends and family judge them, or because they think their colleagues and other acquaintances might judge them.
Respondents in the United States, Brazil and Turkey were also asked to consider the same.
The report found that 55% of people were afraid to express their political views because they are afraid of getting into trouble with authorities, 49% were scared of being judged by friends and family and 50% worried about being judged by their colleagues and other acquaintances.
In India, these levels of concern are “directly comparable to those found in Brazil and in Turkey”. However, compared to the levels of concern shown by respondents in the US, shown by respondents in India are much higher.
According to the Reuters Institute, this fear among netizens could be a result of at least 17 people being arrested since 2012 for material that was considered threatening or offensive to politicians. The “offended politicians” from different parties include Congress’s Manmohan Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath, and Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Banerjee.
According to the report, all of India is not broadly covered under it as the survey was done on only English-speaking, online news users in the country. The respondents largely included males, and they were affluent with higher education and urban. Since millions of people in the country are illiterate, do not have access to the Internet and are not English-speaking, this is not representative in India.
Long battle for news websites
The report further suggests that almost half the users identifying with particular political parties tend to use news websites which appear partisan or alternative.
Facebook (52%) and WhatsApp (also 52%) are very widely used for news (and of course even more widely used for other purposes), and high numbers of respondents use multiple different social media and messaging apps for news. 4/8 pic.twitter.com/FEtHMPO6G8
— Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (@rasmus_kleis) March 25, 2019
For example, 36% of those supporting the UPA government trust their news, and 45% of those supporting the BJP support theirs. Only 26% of those who are “non-partisan” have any trust in the news. According to the report, there is a strong correlation between political partisanship and trust in the news. The report says that perhaps the findings on India on this suggests “some discontent with the perceived relations between much of the political establishment and the news media covering it”.
The survey says that it is a long battle for the news websites as most users are now choosing social media and search tools over news websites, mainly because of a lack of trust.
While 39% of those surveyed said that they trust the news they use most of the time, while another 36% said that most of the time they trust the news in general. 34% trusts social media and 45% trusts searched news.