Study: 2 out of 10 social media users in Southeast Asia share unverified news

An online poll has found that two out of 10 social media users in Southeast Asia usually share news online even before verifying if the information presented is true. This practice is highest among individuals in the Gen Z category (28%), followed by those from Gen X (21%), Boomers (19%), and Millennials (16%).

“Sometimes, a particular incident or event may have several conflicting narratives or versions, and verifying the truth of the matter of the validity of the information presented may be more time consuming and require more effort than hitting the ‘share’ or ‘repost’ button,” said Mind What Matters psychologist Beverly Leow. She also attributed this trend to the ‘self-presentation theory,’ wherein an individual intends to present himself or herself as ‘updated’ and ‘well-informed’ netizens.

The study ‘Making sense of our place in the digital economy’ was conducted in November 2020 by research firm YouGov across Asia Pacific. It was commissioned by global cybersecurity vendor Kaspersky. The poll had 1,240 respondents, 831 of which were from the Southeast Asia region, including the Philippines.

The research also found that about 76% of online users in the region usually obtain news from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and others. Among the respondents, those belonging to the Gen Z group do this practice the most (83%) followed by Millennials (81%), Baby Boomers (70%), and Gen X (62%).

“Southeast Asia internet users are approximately at 400 million with an additional 40 million people who were first-time internet users in 2020,” said Kaspersky Southeast Asia General manager Yeo Siang Tiong. “The region is also known for being among the most active social media users. In fact, our survey showed 36% of users in SEA spend 1 to 2 hours more on these platforms post-lockdown, 28% added 2 to 4 hours, and some 17% with 4 to 6 hours more being spent on socializing online.”

Aside from blocking suspicious and unwanted contacts in social media, there are many other ways to protect yourself and your devices when logging online. Kaspersky shares the following quick tips for social media users:


  1. Check the source. It is always advisable to stick to official news websites or information from company sites.


  1. Break the loop. Do your homework and thoroughly read an article before sharing it online.


  1. Don’t go too fast. Be wary whenever you feel a sense of urgency online.


  1. Think about your digital footprint. Try not to overshare personal data online.


  1. Secure your devices. For individuals, use solutions and observe practical steps to keep your data and devices secured online. For businesses, check out security solutions like the Kaspersky Endpoint Detention and Response Optimum.