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Study: Adults more likely to trust human content than AI

April 19, 2024

The way people use, think and feel about different types of media is constantly changing. In Ofcom’s latest media literacy research, the media regulator takes a deep dive into how people across the UK are navigating an increasingly online world.

This year’s study explores how adults across the UK feel about issues ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) to the impact of being online on their mental health.

Headline findings from Ofcom’s report include:

  1. Adults more likely to trust ‘human’ content than AI, but can they tell the difference?
    The study shows those who are aware of AI would be more likely to trust an article written by a human, than something AI-generated. But only around a quarter of adults (27 per cent) said they felt confident they could spot AI content online. In a controlled environment, most participants in the qualitative Adults’ Media Lives study were able to distinguish between real and AI-generated content, although many expressed concerns over how realistic the latter looked, and doubted that they would be able to spot fakes in the real world.
  2. More people feel using social media is good for their mental health.
    While public debate is often focused on the potential negative impact of being online, around two fifths (39 per cent) of adult using social media said these sites or apps were positive for their mental health. This is up from 35 per cent in 2022. And overall, the majority of users (56 per cent) said the benefits of being on social media outweighed the risks – also up from 52 per cent in 2022. The only age group where a majority did not agree with this was the over 65s.
  3. Some adults may be accidentally amplifying untrue stories when encountering them online.
    Just under half of the social media users (45 per cent) said they had seen a deliberately untrue or misleading story on social media over the last year. Four in ten of those did not take any action as a result, while 14 per cent shared the story further to alert others. But doing this can actually increase the risk to other people – exposing a wider audience to false information.
  4. Some find staying safe from scammers a challenge.
    Most adults said they felt confident in being able to spot a suspicious email or text. But when presented with an example of a scam email, more than one in 10 (12 per cent) responded in a way that could have exposed them to a scam. And a quarter of UK adults using online banking services admitted to using the same password in multiple places, rather than using unique passwords – potentially opening them up to becoming victims of fraud.
  5. A minority of UK households remain offline, while some adults rely on a smartphone for internet access.
    Nearly all UK adults are online, but 6 per cent of households still do not have internet access at home, a figure that has remained stable since 2021. And almost one in five adults (17 per cent) rely solely on a smartphone to get online, rising to around three in ten of those coming from DE households.

Ofcom commented: “Understanding the way people use different media and their ability to navigate the online world with confidence is a vital part of our Making Sense of Media (MSOM) programme to promote media literacy.”

Categories: AI, Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Research, Social Media

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