Most Americans Don't Trust Social Media News, But It Only Takes A Few

A large majority of Americans don’t trust the news they see on social media compared to legacy news sources like newspapers and TV, according to a new survey of 1,007 U.S. adults conducted by Ipsos on behalf of BuzzFeed. But even a small number of people convinced of falsehoods can wreak considerable havoc.

Overall, Ipsos found that just 15% of Americans believe the news they get on social media generally, including 18% for Facebook and YouTube, and 15% for Twitter. That compares to 59% who said they trust TV news, 58% for print newspapers, 54% for newspaper Web sites, and 50% for both news radio and cable news.

The survey found that people who actually get news from a specific source are also more likely to believe it. Thus, among people who read print newspapers 74% consider them trustworthy, while 69% who visit newspaper Web sites consider them trustworthy. For news radio the proportion is 68%, broadcast TV 66%, and cable news 65%.

For social media generally, 25% of people who get news from social sites consider it trustworthy – but there are some major disparities when it comes to specific sites. Thus 27% of people who get news from Facebook consider it trustworthy, but the proportion soars to 49% for Twitter and 53% for YouTube.

One obvious rebuttal to these findings is that even one misinformed person bringing a gun into a pizzeria in search of a fictional child sex slave ring is one too many. Taking a broader view, nowadays even a relatively small proportion of misinformed people in a few states can decide an election.

On the other hand, a “relatively small proportion” still means several million voters. And if millions of people are credulous enough to believe everything they read online, then America has a much bigger problem to deal with than just fake news – namely the entrenched stupidity, verging on willful ignorance, of a not insignificant portion of the electorate. If a nation can’t provide even minimal education to its public, sufficient to impart simple critical thinking skills to voters, does it really deserve good government?

Oh well; we had a good run.
2 comments about "Most Americans Don't Trust Social Media News, But It Only Takes A Few".
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  1. Norman Smit from Integrated Media Strategies, January 27, 2017 at 2:33 p.m.

    Rubbish. There is no such thing as 'fake news'. #SeanSpicerFacts

  2. Peter Rosenwald from Consult Partners, January 27, 2017 at 3:35 p.m.

    Well said.

    We are increasingly living in a world of 'alternative facts' and soon it will be impossible to believe any 'facts'.

    We in the media, social and general, have our work cut out for us. The new bottom line value will be the ROC, return on credibility. Earning it will be difficult and may be dangerous but enormopusly gratifying.

    The responsibility lies not with the Gods but with ourselves.

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