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1 In 10 New Zealanders Have Shared Disinformation

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND17 November 2020 – Nearly two thirds of Kiwi respondents (66 percent) believe they’ve encountered disinformation first-hand and 13 percent say they’ve shared information later shown to be incorrect or intentionally misleading according to new research released by NortonLifeLock (NASDAQ: NLOK), a global leader in consumer Cyber Safety.

According to the online survey of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, conducted by The Harris Poll, more than 8 in 10 Kiwi respondents (82 percent) are very concerned about the spread of disinformation but 55 percent feel powerless to stop it. And 56 percent of Kiwis surveyed often question whether information they see on social media is disinformation or fact.

Disinformation is verifiably false or misleading information that is created and spread deliberately with the intention of deceiving, misleading and creating division.

Mark Gorrie, Senior Director, Asia Pacific, NortonLifeLock, says that disinformation can spread rapidly on social media, and people can be influenced as false or misleading information is reshared and reposted by those around them.

“Most of us curate our social media feeds into a community of like-minded individuals, so we’re likely to see the same information or disinformation shared numerous times.”

Characteristically Kiwi respondents are sceptical that others can spot disinformation with most believing that people often share disinformation without recognising what it is (91 percent) and that most people can’t recognise it (79 percent).

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The majority of New Zealanders surveyed agree that disinformation has the ability to greatly influence someone’s opinion (91 percent), but far less (53 percent) acknowledge that disinformation could influence them.

NortonLifeLock identifies and reports bots that may be nefariously sharing disinformation on social media to help stop it from spreading and offers a free tool for consumers called BotSight. Botsight shows if a Twitter account is likely a bot to help people make informed decisions about where they are getting their information.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to detect fact from fiction online,” adds Gorrie. “Deepfakes and disinformation campaigns are becoming more and more sophisticated, so the best approach is a healthy dose of scepticism and thorough fact-checking to help avoid spreading disinformation.”

Additional findings include:

  • Almost a third of New Zealanders surveyed don’t know the true purpose of disinformation. Only 70 percent of New Zealanders know that disinformation is created to cause a divide or rift between people. Additionally, a similar proportion (71 percent) believe it is created for political gain.
  • 88 percent of New Zealand respondents believe social media companies have an obligation to remove disinformation from their platforms.
  • 38 percent of respondents believe disinformation is most likely to be spread by individual social media users, followed by conspiracy groups (31 percent). Unlike in the United States where similar research found Republicans most commonly believed news media outlets were most likely to spread disinformation (36 percent), only 14 percent of New Zealanders think those most likely to spread misinformation are news media outlets.
  • Disinformation has taken a toll on relationships, with many Kiwis having argued with someone (37 percent), unfriended/unfollowed someone on social media (28 percent) or taken a break from social media altogether (21 percent) because of disinformation.

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within New Zealand by The Harris Poll on behalf of NortonLifeLock from 19-21 October 2020 among 1,023 New Zealand adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Complete survey method, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, are available upon request.

About NortonLifeLock

NortonLifeLock Inc. (NASDAQ: NLOK) is a global leader in consumer Cyber Safety. NortonLifeLock is dedicated to helping secure the devices, identities, online privacy, and home and family needs of approximately 50 million consumers, providing them with a trusted ally in a complex digital world. For more information, please visit www.nortonlifelock.com.

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