No Social Please, We're British

The damning verdict may not come as too much of a surprise, but the degree to which Britons don't trust social media probably will. The UK not only mistrusts social media -- it's leading "major countries" in taking what they read on Facebook and Twitter with a pinch of salt.

That is the finding of a YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project poll. With just 12% trusting information they see on social media, the UK is the bottom of the trust table, and very nearly twice as mistrustful of social as Americans.

The reasons are pretty obvious, and are even hinted at by the project's name. We've had a London-based business, Cambridge Analytica, scrape personal information from Facebook to use for political electioneering. Allowing developers to access personal information on the site led to the ICO using its maximum (pre -GDPR) power to hit Facebook with a GBP500,000 fine.

We've also had several years of privacy concerns and consternation over how harmful content can be so widely spread on social media. We've also had an empty seat in parliament left for Mark Zuckerberg, who has so far declined an invitation to be grilled by MPs. 

That's not to mention a warning from the German competition authorities for Facebook to stop collating personal information across its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp services. Breaking a promise not to share data across Facebook and WhatsApp has already cost Facebook a GBP94m fine for "miseadling" competition authorities.

It is unclear whether Facebook is now being subsequently investigated for data protection lapses since GDPR became law a year ago. 

Then we have the so-called clearer rules on political advertising which appear to be little more than proving where you live before your organisation's name is put on an ad. It doesn't reveal where the money has come from, prompting journalists to prove that a recent record pro-Brexit spike in advertising activity was being secretly funded by Boris Johnson campaigner, Lynton Crosby. 

It's hardly the stuff of which dreams are made, is it? Brits have had enough of misinformation, harmful content, secretive political advertising and a failure to protect their privacy. 

Perhaps the most damning statistic for Facebook and Twitter is not that a mere 12% of Brits trust them. In this type of survey, there are often a lot of "not sure" box-tickers, but with this one, a massive 86% affirmed they are not in the "unsure" category but most definitely do not trust the social giants. 

However, the majority of Brits do trust the news on the television and local newspapers. So there is trust there -- it's just not pointed at social media. 

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