Abstract: This article explores audience perceptions of different types of disinformation, and the actions that users take to combat them, in three Spanish-speaking countries: Argentina, Chile, and Spain. Quantitative data from the Digital News Report (2018 and 2019), based on a survey of more than 2000 digital users from each country was used for the analysis. Results show remarkable similarities among the three countries, and how digital users identically ranked the types of problematic information that concerned them most. Survey participants were most concerned by stories where facts are spun or twisted to push a particular agenda, followed by, those that are completely made up for political or commercial reasons, and finally, they were least concerned by poor journalism (factual mistakes, dumbed-down stories, misleading headlines/clickbait). A general index of “Concern about disinformation” was constructed using several sociodemographic variables that might influence the perception. It showed that the phenomenon is higher among women, older users, those particularly interested in political news, and among left-wingers. Several measures are employed by users to avoid disinformation, such as checking a number of different sources to see whether a news story is reported in the same way, relying on the reputation of the news company, and/or deciding not to share a news story due to doubts regarding its accuracy. This article concludes that the perceived relevance of different types of problematic information, and preventive actions, are not homogeneous among different population segments.
Keywords: Argentina; audience; Chile; digital journalism; digital media; disinformation; fake-news; information vulnerability; misinformation; Spain