Major world events change the way we see the Internet
New research released today by InternetNZ shows that many New Zealanders are extremely concerned about the Internet being a forum for extremist material, hate speech and fake news.
31% of New Zealanders — up from 20% last year — are ‘extremely concerned’ that the Internet is a forum for extremist material and hate speech. This is the biggest jump in the data compared to last year.
Jordan Carter, Chief Executive of InternetNZ, said these numbers are most probably linked to the horrific attacks on the Christchurch Mosques in 2019 and to the toxic environment of the United States federal election in 2020.
“These figures highlight that the Internet we have today is not the Internet we need.
“We all know and understand the potential that the Internet can bring to our lives. It has allowed society so many benefits and the world around us has become increasingly efficient and open to opportunities because of the Internet.
“But what’s also evident is the harm that the Internet allows.
“We need to find a way to improve the system to keep people safe. We need to build in smart regulation that holds companies and individuals to account in an online world.” says Carter.
The research also shows 22% of New Zealanders — up from 14% last year — are ‘extremely concerned’ that the Information on the Internet is misleading or wrong.
The rise of ‘fake news’ ran rampant in the Trump era. And while Trump is now out, we don’t expect to see this problem decrease anytime soon.
We all need to be aware that some content on the Internet is fake. And we need to make smart decisions to get our information from reliable sources. Without this awareness, trust in the Internet will decrease and we won't be able to harness the power of it.
Despite security and trust concerns, 87% of us believe the benefits of the Internet outweigh the negatives.
“We’re pleased to see New Zealanders recognise and value the benefits the Internet offers,” says Carter.
COVID-19, and the subsequent lockdowns, have shone light on the need for many people to access the Internet.
“It is a stark reminder that it is so important for us — as a country — to make digital inclusion a priority.
“There are many people in New Zealand who still don’t have the Internet for many reasons such as affordability, location, or the lack of skills to use it.
“We must keep working hard to minimise these barriers so that everyone has an equal chance to access information and services online,” says Carter.
Other key findings from the report:
- 60% of participants said their work could be done from home if needed. 51% of those people would like to work from home more often. Check out the reasons getting in the way of them working from home.
- The level of concern around privacy and security has also increased in the last year. 46% of New Zealanders are extremely or very concerned about the security of their personal details.
- 58% have decided not to use an online service due to security and privacy concerns.
- The most significant increases in areas of the Internet New Zealanders are extremely concerned about include:
- children accessing inappropriate content
- misleading information and online conspiracy theories
- extremist and hate speech forums
- Despite concerns, having access to the Internet is more important than ever with over 96% of New Zealand Internet users using it on a daily basis in their home, and seven out of ten Internet users using it daily at work.
- Despite security and trust concerns, 87% of us believe the benefits of the Internet outweigh the negatives.
About the report
Each year InternetNZ commissions market research company Colmar Brunton to survey New Zealanders about their use, benefits, concerns, and fears regarding the Internet. InternetNZ will continue to commission this research each year to demonstrate what people think today, and how their thinking changes over time.