Americans Get News From Social Media, But Don't Trust It

At some other time, these kind of results might excite more comment or concern, but in a year when Donald Trump is the GOP front-runner, they somehow kind of make sense.

Most Americans get news from social media, but don’t trust the news they get on social media. It makes perfect sense, really.

That’s according to a new survey of 2,014 U.S. adults, conducted by the Media Insight Project, a joint initiative from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Among its other interesting (and sometimes paradoxical) findings, the survey illustrated both the rise of new sources of news and information, and at the same time, growing skepticism about the accuracy of those sources.

Just over half of Americans (51%) say they get news from social media. Facebook is the most popular source, cited by 87% of social media news consumers, with YouTube a distant second at 21% and Twitter coming in third at 18%.

All this “news” is taken with a big grain of salt, however, as just 12% of social media news consumers say they trust news from Facebook “a great deal,” while 60% trust it “somewhat” and 28% “a little” or not at all.

YouTube isn’t much better, with 19% expressing a great deal of trust, 60% trusting it somewhat.

Finally, Twitter was both more and less trusted, inspiring a great deal of trust in 23% of social media news consumers, some trust among 45%, and little trust or no trust among 22%.

Social media news consumers said they are more likely to trust information based on the reputation of the original news organization reporting it, cited by 66% of Facebook news consumers, as opposed to the reputation of the social media acquaintance who shared it, cited by 48%.

Social media may have an advantage in some areas, including user experience. Asked what they consider most important in online news, 63% of respondents said ads shouldn’t interfere with the news and the same proportion said they want a side or app that loads fast. Further, 60% said they wanted content that is compatible with consumption on mobile devices.

On the latter note, Facebook in particular is seeking a competitive advantage by wooing publishers with Instant Articles, allowing them to cut down on data demands and load times, and has also worked to introduce mobile-friendly formats.

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