Social media a top source for news, but not for trustworthiness

12 April 2019 2 min. read
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A new survey from marketing research consultancy Maru/Matchbox, commissioned by The Canadian Journalism Foundation, found that social media was the top news source for Americans and Canadians, although Canadians found it to be the least trustworthy.

The poll, which queried a representative sample of 1,516 Canadians and 1,523 Americans, found that social media such as Facebook and Twitter was a top news source for 52% of Canadians, but was also the least trusted, at 32%. Seventy-three percent of millennials had social media as their top news source, trusting it only slightly more than the overall average, at 36%.

In the US, 48% listed social media as their top news source, though Americans had higher trust in social media, at 43%. Trust in social media news sources was very high among US millennials, at 60%.

"Social media is changing our relationship with the news," Sara Cappe, managing director of public affairs for Maru/Matchbox, said. "While it has become a common source of news and news-related information, people are less trusting of what they find there.”

Social media top source for news, but not for trustworthiness

The above results were echoed in a 2018 Vividata/Kantar survey, which found that traditional media such as print, TV, and radio rated much higher for audience trust than social media websites, with radio ranking as the most trusted source at 82%.

The Kantar study also revealed that the proliferation of “fake news,” delivered mostly through social media channels, had begun to erode Canadians’ trust in mainstream media, with a surprising 28% saying that their trust in mainstream sources had suffered because of it. The above is clearly an issue, because mainstream news sources are not those spreading fake news.

The Maru/Matchbox survey, meanwhile, found that Canadian and American respondents thought fake news was most likely to dominate politics, at 53% and 54%, respectively. This probably reflects the widely observed utilization of fake news by state-sponsored internet trolls to sway democratic elections. The survey also revealed that Americans are more likely than Canadians to believe that fake news is easy to spot, at 51% versus 37%.

"As citizens, we care about maintaining the integrity of a free press and we're concerned about the impact of 'fake news' in the upcoming U.S. presidential election," Cappe said. "Many Canadians – and Americans – feel that 'fake news' is a significant issue and believe that the situation is most dire in the US."

Related: More than half of regular social media users say they're using it less this year