As social media companies continue to grapple with how to deal with misinformation about the election and pandemic, more Americans trust Facebook when compared with other popular platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, according to the “Social Media Trust Survey” conducted in February 2021 by Engine Insights on behalf of Triunfo Partners.
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Social Media Trust Survey finds that 25 percent of Americans say they trust Facebook the most, versus YouTube (15 percent), Instagram (9 percent), LinkedIn (7 percent), and Twitter (5 percent). At the same time, more than 30 percent of Americans say they don’t trust any of the “Big Five” social media platforms. (Graphic: Business Wire)
The survey finds that 25 percent of Americans say they trust Facebook the most, versus YouTube (15 percent), Instagram (9 percent), LinkedIn (7 percent), and Twitter (5 percent). At the same time, more than 30 percent of Americans say they don’t trust any of the “Big Five” social media platforms.
With more than 2,000 respondents across the country and a margin of error of 2.19 percent, the Social Media Trust Survey validates the pervasive wave of distrust many people feel toward these platforms.
“People have been serving up content to these channels for years without considering its effect, strengthening the breadth and reach of social media outlets that have become breeding grounds for misinformation and fake news,” says Evan Pondel, founder and CEO of Triunfo Partners, a Los Angeles-based strategic communications firm, which does not represent any social media companies. “Historically, the gatekeepers and distributors of credible information were professional news outlets that employ reporters and editors to uphold the integrity of information. Today, social media companies are the primary gatekeepers, and the general public is publishing millions of pieces of content on a daily basis without proper checks and balances.
“That means the onus is on consumers, executives, companies, politicians, organizations, academics, and anyone else with a reputation at stake, to monitor these channels for misleading and false information,” Pondel says.
In Social Media We Distrust
Among the more nefarious activities playing out on social media are so called “First Amendment Auditors,” some of whom operate under the guise of upholding First Amendment rights, but in reality, confront unsuspecting subjects in “gotcha videos” that are then posted online to extort money.
“We are privileged to live in a country where freedom of speech is a fundamental right. The problem is, people are abusing this right on social media channels, harassing the innocent and disrupting businesses,” Pondel says. “It is incumbent on management teams to have a communications plan in place to ensure social media channels serve as a resource to communicate with key audiences.
“It is also important that business owners and employees know their rights with respect to social media and what is appropriate when it comes to posting about a company,” Pondel says.
News in Disguise
While trust in certain social media channels will wax and wane, the fact that people utilize these channels to consume and broadcast information is unlikely to change. About half of U.S. adults (53%) say they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes,” according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 31 – Sept. 7, 2020.
Pondel says the convenience afforded by social media channels makes thumbing through an Instagram feed to read New York Times’ headlines a lot easier than toggling between two different applications.
“This convenience comes at a price. Illegitimate news on social media platforms is often camouflaged by legitimate posts from trusted news sources,” Pondel says. “Reddit and Medium are perfect examples of the confluence of credible and uncredible information running on the same platform. A Wall Street Journal reporter may post an article adjacent to an article posted by a stock promoter.
“For companies and executives, dedicating someone to monitor these channels is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity,” Pondel says.
Social Media Trust Survey Methodology
The Social Media Trust Survey was conducted by Engine Insights among a sample of 2,006 adults 18 and older. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample. This survey was live Feb. 5 – Feb. 7, 2021.
To view the full survey results, please email email@example.com.
About Triunfo Partners
Triunfo Partners is a strategic communications, investor relations, and digital branding firm that advises senior management teams, boards of directors, governments, organizations and high-profile individuals. The firm specializes in programs that engage key stakeholders during critical moments, including product launches, management changes, crises, M&A transactions, initial public offerings, quarterly earnings cycles, shareholder activism, bankruptcy, political campaigns and philanthropic events.