More Britons avoiding the news due to Brexit frustrations, report finds

More Britons avoiding the news due to Brexit frustrations, report finds

Increasing numbers of Britons are avoiding the news because Brexit items drag down their mood, a new report suggests.

More than a third of those questioned in the UK (35 per cent) were actively avoiding reading or hearing the news – a rise of 11 percentage points in two years.

Of those who shun Brexit news, 71 per cent said they did so “due to frustration over the intractable and polarising nature” of the political debate.

Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of Remain voters cited the negative impact on their mood, while 41 per cent of Leave voters avoid Brexit reports because they feel unable to trust them, the survey suggested.

The report, by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, was based on a YouGov online survey of 75,000 people in 38 countries.

Four in 10 felt there was nothing they could do to influence events and more than half of people – 58 per cent – said the news dampened their state of mind.

Nic Newman, the report’s lead author, said: “People feel that the news has become really… depressing and it brings down their mood. They feel powerless to do anything about it.”

Across the 38 countries, an average of 55 per cent of respondents felt concerned about the spread of misinformation.

In the UK, 70 per cent expressed concern about separating real and fake on the internet – a 12 percentage-point increase over the past year and the highest jump out of all countries.

Mr Newman said there had not been an increase in false news reports in the UK, suggesting the trend could be a result of public attention on the issue.

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In February, the Commons digital, culture and media committee published a report on disinformation and fake news that branded Facebook a “digital gangster”.

The MPs’ inquiry followed concerns over whether disinformation and voter manipulation had affected elections and the Brexit vote in 2016.

“I think that people are concerned partly because the media says they need to be concerned rather than something has actually changed,” Mr Newman said.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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