Paris (AFP)

The French spend an average of 3% of their time on the internet on online information sources, or 4.9 minutes per day of connection, according to a study published Monday by the Descartes Foundation.

To arrive at these conclusions, the authors of the study, Laurent Cordonier and Aurélien Brest, analyzed the internet connection data of a panel of 2,372 people representative of the French population aged over 18 over 30 consecutive days, from September 20 to October 19, 2020.

Online information behavior was very variable throughout the period: 17% of participants did not consult any information source in 30 days, 46% did so within an hour, 32% between one and ten hours and 5% spent more than 10 hours obtaining information on the web on one of the French-speaking information sources recognized by the study.

2,946 French-speaking information sources were thus selected - 2,295 websites visited by more than 15,000 monthly visitors and 651 YouTube channels with at least 15,000 subscribers - identified by the Storyzy fake-news detection software.

On the whole, the participants showed "flickering": they devoted an average of 1.9 minutes to one source of information and consulted on average 15 different sources of information over the duration of the study.

The more time they "spent learning online during the 30 days of the study, the greater the number of different sources of information they consulted," note the authors.

The most consulted sources of information were the regional daily press, sports news and the national daily press.

The ranking of the 26 sources consulted by the largest number of participants "is largely made up of traditional media" and represents "40% of participants' online information time".

Some 39% of participants consulted sources of information deemed unreliable during the 30 days of the study, for an average of 40 seconds per day of connection.

When compared to all the participants, "the time spent on information sources deemed unreliable represents 5% of the total information time online".

Among the most consulted, those of generalist disinformation (43%), the "click traps" which aim to artificially increase internet traffic and sources of health disinformation.

At the origin of this study, the Descartes foundation, founded in September 2019 by Jean-Philippe and Tiphaine Hecketsweiler, respectively co-founder of the investment company HLD and director of communications at Suez.

The foundation presents itself as a research institute resulting from an "apartisane, independent, citizen and European initiative".

© 2021 AFP