Is our love of social media over? New survey shows only 1 in 4 trust it for news

Seems our love affair with social media, at least as the provider of reliable, trustworthy news could finally be over. At least that it is according to a new survey by PR firm Edelman that claims that when it comes to news, more of us are returning to ‘traditional media’ outlets.

The survey found that social media companies have lost the trust of most of the public, with only a quarter of the UK population now saying they trust social media as a source of news and information.

Where once social media companies were once seen as champions of free speech and democracy, they are now seen as not taking enough responsibility around key issues.

For example, around 70% of Britons believe that social media companies do not do enough to prevent illegal or unethical behaviours on their platforms. 70% believe these companies do not do enough to prevent the sharing of extremist content, and 69% agree they don’t do enough to combat cyberbullying.

What’s more, the promise of social media companies making the world more open and connected rings hollow for many. Over a third of Britons believe that social media is not good for society, and even more (57%) believe the companies take advantage of people’s loneliness.

A large proportion of Britons believe that social media companies are not sufficiently regulated (64%), lack transparency (63%), and are selling people’s data without their knowledge (62%).

The reputation of social media companies has also been hit by the problem of fake news. Over half of Britons (53%) worry about being exposed to fake news on social media, and 64% cannot distinguish between proper journalism and fake news.

The fear of fake news may also explain the fact that a large proportion of the UK (42%) say they only skim headlines on social media, but do not click on the content.

The 2018 Trust Barometer is Edelman’s 18th annual trust and credibility survey, measuring trust across a number of institutions, sectors and geographies. The Trust Barometer surveys more than 33,000 respondents across 28 countries.

This year’s findings reveal a flatline in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs in the UK. Trust in business fell to 43 percent, whilst the other three institutions saw no change at all.





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Key findings include:

–  There has been a huge increase in trust in traditional media (61 percent), reaching levels not seen since 2012. There has also been a rebound in faith in experts and leaders. Despite this, there are big structural issues for media in general, people are consuming less media and some are actively avoiding it altogether (19 percent).

–  Only six percent of people now consider themselves part of the informed public – those who consume business or political news several times a week, reaching an all time low.

–  News rejecters cite the news agenda is too depressing (40 percent), that the news is too biased, and that the news itself is controlled by “hidden agendas”.

–  Trust in Government remains very low at 36 percent and the majority feel as though their views are not represented in politics today.

–  When looking at the bigger picture, Britain remains subdued with distrust continuing across the board and Britons are becoming more pessimistic about their economic outlook.

–  The biggest concerns for the future of Britain include ensuring the NHS is able to provide care for an ageing and growing population (79 percent) and the worry of rising political or religious extremism (72 percent).

–  There is little hope for the immediate future as only 20 percent feel their standard of living will improve in 2018 and 36 percent expect it to worsen.

You can see more information in the presentation below:


Chris Price