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Survey: Majority of Finns feel effects of fake news

The majority of people in Finland think that online fake news reports affect people's opinions about current events. Sixty-seven percent of respondents to a new media survey said they think fake news affects Finns' perceptions on issues 'a lot' or to an 'extreme' degree.

Image: Timo Nykyri / Yle

The term "fake news" came into popular parlance after US President Donald Trump and the media began using it on a regular basis. But its definition remains somewhat fluid, depending on who is using the term.

According media and print advocacy group the Finnish Media Federation, many domestic media consumers said they are often confronted with news stories that don't measure up with reality.

Some 43 percent of the survey's respondents said that every week they came across news items that contained false information. Twenty-nine percent said they read news stories that they thought were outright fake.

Four percent of the respondents said they'd shared news items that they knew were untrue.

Fifty-nine percent of the respondents said they think it is likely that disinformation related to next year's Finnish presidential race will be disseminated via the internet.

Finns still trust traditional media

Most of the respondents said they rely on newspapers, magazines, TV and radio to get their news, according to the survey.

Media outlets which were seen by respondents to disseminate the most false news content included articles published by political and ideological groups, as well as web-based entities like the anti-immigration site MV-Lehti.

Finnish Trump coverage?

Some 46 percent of respondents said that they considered domestic coverage of US President Donald Trump to be balanced and neutral.

Some 15 percent said they thought Trump coverage by Finnish news outlets was excessively positive, while another 15 percent said the Trump coverage was too negative.

Some 1,000 residents of Finland participated in the survey, which was carried out by polling firm Tietoykkönen in October. The margin of error in the survey was a maximum of plus or minus 3.1 percent.