Half use social media as a source of news – but many remain sceptical

July 17, 2017, 10:26 AM GMT+0

Many lack trust in social media to provide them with quality news, new research from the Reuters Annual Digital Report in conjunction with YouGov shows.

The report, which is based on a YouGov online survey conducted with 70,000 people in 36 countries, notes that over half of respondents (54%) use social media as a source of news.

However, only a quarter (24%) think that social media has the ability to separate real and fake news well, while four in ten (40%) think that the news media does a good job at doing so.

Those in the UK are over twice as likely to have faith in the news media (41%) than social media (18%) although trust has fallen significantly (7 points) since the Brexit referendum. In the US (38% vs. 20%), people are twice as likely to have faith in the news media.

The report found many have an aversion to news altogether; almost a third of respondents (29%) say they often or sometimes avoid the news. Of these, a third (33%) said this is because they can’t rely on the news to be true.

News consumption is most prevalent on Facebook, with approaching half (47%) using it for this purpose. That said, the use of messaging to consume news has risen recently, with Whatsapp rising to 15%.

Across all 36 countries surveyed, 80% use a Facebook product weekly and the social giant is well poised to benefit from a shift to messaging to absorb news due to its ownership of WhatsApp.

Despite saying they have more trust in news media, people aren’t turning their backs on the likes of Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and YouTube for their news, which suggests that social media still poses a significant threat to news organisations.

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