Dubai: The pandemic and the near constant exposure to the digital world it has brought on is having its effect – 53 per cent of UAE’s internet users now rate the spread of ‘fake news’ as their biggest worry. They are not alone.

Across the world, 57 per cent of web users rate misleading information in the digital space as a concern, while 45 per cent suggest they are just as worried about online fraud. There are valid reasons too for that – ‘online fraud costs the world $600 billion per year – or 0.8 per cent of global GDP – mostly via scams eliciting personal financial information,” according to findings in the World Risk Poll brought out by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup.

See More

The countries where their citizens are most concerned about misleading information are Malawi, where 87 per cent of online users are concerned, Rwanda, at 87 per cent, and Bolivia at 84 per cent. Western Europeans are most concerned about online fraud, with the most worried being in Portugal (78 per cent), Malta (77 per cent), France (74 per cent) and Spain (71 per cent).

“Knowing what people think will help us to identify gaps between peoples’ thoughts about risk and their experiences of threats to their safety,” said Prof. Richard Clegg, Chief Executive, Lloyd’s Register Foundation. “We can use this data to work with communities and empower people to take action most likely to reduce harm – that saves lives and helps them feel safe.”

Feeling safe

In another polling measure, 58 per cent of UAE’s citizens feel ‘safer’ than they did five years ago, placing the country among the top quartile of nations where their citizens and residents share the same sentiments.

The populations that trust their governments the most for provision of critical basic infrastructure are Singapore at number one in the world, and Switzerland at number one in Europe and number 7 in the world. The Netherlands and Sweden rank at two and three respectively for trust in government in Europe, and at 9 and 10 in the world.

The citizens who are expressing the least trust in their governments now include those in Lebanon – the devastating Beirut port blasts and the near constant protests that rocked the country over living standards have exacerbated the negative views.

“High income countries tend to have a higher level of trust in their governments on infrastructure than low economy countries,” the report states. “The country a person lives in accounts for only 14 per cent of the variation in how a person rates the safety performance of their government.”

The World Risk Poll was conducted by Gallup and based on interviews with over 150,000 people, including those in countries where little or no official data exists, yet where reported risks are often high. “The World Risk Poll represents the views of 98 per cent of the world’s population on safety and risk, including many people whose voices have never been heard before,” said Clegg.

More worries

While the risk of infection from COVID-19 is a live threat, this is not just the sole ‘everyday risk’ that people are battling in their minds. As per the poll, 34 per cent of people globally were worried about severe weather events, and 32 per cent about violent crime. The top three countries where people worry most about everyday risks are Mozambique, Guinea and Malawi.

The World Risk Poll includes indexes which rank countries by how much they worry about everyday risks – including severe weather, violent crime, unsafe food and water, electrical powerlines, mental health issues and electrical appliances – and their experience of harm from those risks.

The World Worry Index ranks countries by how much they worry and shows what they worry about. The Experience of Harm Index reports where people have experienced harm from these risks. Together, they offer an insight of nations that are “over-worrying and those where perception and experience of risk are more balanced”.

And the countries and citizens who worry the least? They are most likely to be found in Sweden, Singapore and Uzbekistan.