Do people trust social media for news?

May 12, 2016

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So, do people trust social media for news? Even before the breaking news from earlier this week, the short answer to this question was… No. Most people who use social media to get news do not have a lot of trust in the content. A study from April states that 66% of Americans report that they get news of any type from a computer and 63 percent from a smartphone. However, the American Press Institute goes on to state: 

When it comes to trust, many people who receive news from these social media platforms consume it with skepticism. Social media news consumers do not generally trust the news they see there. As a result, they consider a variety of factors to adjudicate whether a particular story can be trusted. The most important are their perceptions of the original news source and also the person who posted the item.

What social platforms do people trust? Here’s the summary. The following percentage of respondents said they “trust news a great deal/a lot” on these platforms:

  • LinkedIn: 23%
  • Reddit: 22%
  • Twitter: 18%
  • Instagram: 17%
  • YouTube: 16%
  • Snapchat: 14%
  • Facebook: 12%

See the graphic below for more details.

Do people trust social media for news

First up is LinkedIn, closely followed by Reddit. And, while we can dive [probably too] deeply into all the reasons why one platform over another is more trusted, the part I find the most interesting is this: even the top ranked social platform (LinkedIn, in this case) is NOT trusted a great deal/a lot by 77% of those respondents. That is by far the majority of the respondents. It seems that the question is not whether people trust social media for news (they don’t). The better question for markets (and journalists, really) is “Where, then, are people getting their news?” Remember that first statistic: 63% of people gets their news from a smartphone. 66% from a computer. What sites are those people going to for trusted news? Or, are they consuming news on social platforms, but seeing all the updates with a healthy dose of skepticism?

I’d like to see another study on this, one that answers these questions. As we continue to finesse our marketing skills, taking advantage of recent surveys and studies like this to improve our work, it’s important to keep asking questions. Questions like these.

What other questions do you have on this subject or on this study? Let us know in the comments below.