Online Nation is an annual report that looks at what people are doing online, how they are served by online content providers and platforms, and their attitudes to and experiences of using the internet.
Read the full report
People’s experience of video-sharing platforms
Ofcom recently did some research to understand people’s experience of Video-sharing platforms (VSPs), through a mixture of online surveys and talking directly to users and creators. This video describes the research and summaries its findings.
The research found that nearly all internet users had used at least one VSP, with the majority of platform users having seen or experienced something potentially harmful. The research also found that when people encounter harmful content, they are not always sure how to report it or what happens when they do.
Pilot Online Harms Survey 2020/21
In December 2020, the Government confirmed its intention to appoint Ofcom as the regulator for online harms in the UK.
This means we will take on new responsibilities to protect children and vulnerable people when they are online and give everybody greater confidence to enjoy the benefits of being online safely.
We are now stepping up our work on online safety and will work with the Government and Parliament as they develop the necessary legislation. As part of this work, we have conducted an online pilot study among 4000 individuals aged 13+, which explored attitudes towards the internet, including views on responsibility when it comes to moderating content and keeping children safe, confidence in staying safe online, exposure, frequency and responses to harm online.
Making Sense of Media is Ofcom’s programme of work to help improve the online media literacy of UK adults and children.
Ofcom has a statutory duty to promote media literacy, and the Government intends to further strengthen our role in this area through the Online Safety Bill.
Understanding people’s online habits, behaviours and attitudes is a vital part of these statutory duties. This evidence helps us – and others – identify trends and spot emerging issues.
There are many ways to understand and measure online behaviour, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
We have commissioned three reports which collectively address these issues and provide new insights into online behaviour. They offer a contribution to debates around how to collect and synthesise data; how to understand habits and perceptions about misinformation; and what might be most effective in countering misinformation.
The three reports are:
Automated approaches to measuring online experiences (PDF, 4.1 MB)
This summary report from Faculty provides an assessment of the existing range of online automated tools, within a framework for measuring online experiences. It outlines current providers and the legal, ethical and other considerations to be addressed when using such tools.
Misinformation: A qualitative exploration (PDF, 954.1 KB)
This qualitative research from Yonder provides an in-depth understanding of people who self-identified as either ‘questioning’ or ‘rejecting’ the mainstream media. Our goal was to develop a richer understanding of how such people interact with news and information online, and their opinions and categorisation of various types of misinformation.
Rapid Evidence Assessment on Online Misinformation and Media Literacy (PDF, 1.3 MB)
This review by LSE Consulting (led by Professor Lee Edwards) summarises recent evidence, largely from academic research literature, on work being done in the field of media literacy to address misinformation. It analyses 201 papers following an initial sift of thousands.
We welcome comments and feedback on these reports. If you would like to get in touch, please email email@example.com.
‘Transparency’ refers to publicly available information provided by online service providers. Transparency can have a range of benefits, including informing consumers’ choices about the online service providers that they use, increasing trust in and accountability of online service providers and improving safety overall.
The draft Online Safety Bill proposes to give us powers to require online service providers to produce annual transparency reports. The scope of these powers will of course depend on the outcome of the parliamentary process, but as currently proposed, we would be able to ask them to publish information about illegal and harmful content on their sites, the processes they have for identifying and reporting these types of content, how they manage risks and protect users and how they make users aware of steps they can take on their sites to improve online safety, such as reporting and flagging problematic content.
We were keen to learn more about how transparency has been used in other sectors and contexts and with what results. We commissioned PA Consulting to evaluate literature on transparency and reporting policies across a range of sectors and contexts to understand which factors had been taken into account, from the intended audience to the information collected. PA looked at lots of different contexts, both nationally and internationally, and conducted 22 interviews with academics, regulators and think tanks to provide us with a broad overview of the range of roles transparency can play, its benefits in different contexts and also the potential limitations.
PA Consulting’s independent report (PDF, 2.1 MB) has been published today. Its findings will help to inform thinking about transparency over the coming months and years.
The report highlights:
- the value of an adaptive approach to transparency. This could include updating requirements proportionately to keep pace with new challenges and varying information that we collect from different companies or about different aspects of online safety. Stress testing transparency requirements could be informative about whether reporting is fit for purpose;
- the lack of auditing of the information currently disclosed in transparency reports, which means their accuracy and credibility cannot be verified;
- the skills and information gap between online platforms, stakeholders and users in relation to transparency; and
- support for international collaboration and approaches in transparency since online companies operate cross-borders.
In developing any specific transparency obligations under new powers that might be given to us through the Online Safety Bill, we would of course consult broadly with stakeholders. This would naturally include consideration of the proportionality of any such requirements, including the benefits to users.
I Am A Creator
Four video content creators from around the UK tell us why they love what they do and what advice they have for future YouTube stars.
We also published the Adults' Media Use and Attitudes, Adults' Media Lives and Internet users’ concerns about and experience of potential online harms reports for 2020.
We also published the Adults' Media Use and Attitudes, Adults' Media Lives and Internet users’ concerns about and experience of potential online harms reports for 2019.