Quality Control, a new report by Demos supported by the Publishers Association, shows that the majority (59%) of UK adults think social media content should be edited by moderators to reduce its social harm.

The report, which features a new representative poll of 2,000 UK adults as well as analysis of the Millennium Cohort Data, shows that the public think social media either causes or worsens a range of social issues, including disinformation or ‘fake news’ (54%), followed by mental health conditions (46%) and self-harm or suicide (45%). Younger adults were less likely to be in favour of social media moderation, with 45% supporting the idea, as opposed to 71% of those aged 55+. 

The report recommends the establishment of a voluntary ‘citizen editors’ training scheme, developed in partnership with the publishing industry, to help current social media moderators more effectively manage potentially damaging content.

Other recommendations include: the development of a public service publishing ethos to help create an online environment where harmful and poor quality content is less valued; that tech companies should develop new product standards to promote a better reading environment, including a ‘reading mode’ on mobile phones and that digital publications should be zero rated for VAT in line with print publications.

The report polling also found:

  • A quarter of UK adults say they’re addicted to social media, rising to 42% of 18-34 year olds.
  • Despite spending the most time on social media, younger adults (aged 18-34) are also the most likely to have negative views about their use of it, and are twice as likely as over 55s to describe their social media use as unhealthy (26% vs 12% respectively).  
  • UK adults enjoy reading books more than going on social media, with 46% saying they considered reading books enjoyable.
  • Teenage girls are more negatively affected by high social media use than boys. When looking at the Millennium Cohort Data, only 47% of girls who use social media for 3 hours or more report being happy, compared to 64% of boys in the same group.
  • Trust in all forms of media to deliver impartial accurate information is low across the population. Only 30% of UK adults trust academic papers or reports to deliver this, while only 25% trust newspapers. Social media and magazines were only trusted by one in ten (11% and 10% respectively).

Read the full report here.