Internet users in the country are more likely to encounter fake news online than the global average and social circles are increasingly spreading risks, says a global survey. The Microsoft survey, covering 22 countries and coming a few months ahead of the general elections, shows that as many as 64 percent of the Indians surveyed have encountered fake news as against the global average of 57 percent. Overall, in Microsoft's Digital Civility Index (DCI), India ranked 7th, with 59 percent compared to the global average of 66 percent. This reflected a 2 percent gain year-on-year, indicating a better level of online civility in the country. "A lower index indicates lower risk exposure and a higher perceived level of online civility among the population," Microsoft said.
"The DCI is based on a survey completed in May 2018 to gauge the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) in 22 countries about online behaviours and interactions. It asked questions like, 'which online risks have you and your close circle experienced, when and how often have the risks occurred, and what consequences and actions were taken?' — and it measured respondents' lifetime exposure to 21 online risks across four areas: behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive," Microsoft said in a statement.
The country is ahead of the global average on Internet hoaxes with 54 percent of those surveyed reporting so and also instances of phishing or spoofing at 42 percent, Microsoft said in a statement Tuesday. Interestingly, the survey finds that there has been a sharp 9 percentage points increase in family and friends spreading online risks to 29 percent.
"Social circles became riskier in India," the survey said, adding the jump to 29 percent has taken the country little over the global average. Indians are also higher than global average when it comes to reporting of severe pain from online risks, with 52 percent saying so as against the global average of 28 percent.
In what only complicates the matter, the country saw increased consequences from risks and little positive action taken following online risk exposure, the survey said. "Indians match the worldwide trend for consequences and were more likely to say that they were stressed and lost sleep in the latest year versus the previous year's study," the survey said.
India also showed a drop in positive actions taken following online risk exposure and are less likely to pause before replying to someone whom they disagreed with online. Millennials and teenagers are the hardest hit by online risks and also sought help online, it said.
Written with inputs from PTI