Social media content ‘not trusted by UK public’

Negative public attitudes to online content come less than a year after the charity sector was warned about a growing lack of trust in social media.

Joe Lepper | 13th Nov 19

The public continues to lack trust in the accuracy of social media content, according to latest figures from YouGov.

The polling organisation surveyed UK people about their engagement with social media. This found that 41 per cent claim to have seen inaccurate content over the last month and a fifth have seen content they describe as “completely false”.

Among those surveyed a fifth said they had seen content they believe to be “manipulated” with a similar proportion labelling content as “misinformation”.

Earlier this year the charity sector was given a warning about growing public mistrust of content they see on social media in the NCVO’s Road Ahead report.

This noted recent statistics that trust levels in social media in the UK and worldwide had fallen, with four out of ten global users deleting a social media account due to issues around trust and privacy.

Inaccurate social media profiles

The YouGov survey also looked at the social media use of the public and their friends and family. This found that only a quarter described the profiles of their family as “very honest”.

“Friends, colleagues, celebrities and influencers perform even worse,” said YouGov.

“Almost half of users (48 per cent) believe that the profiles of celebrities are either ‘not at all’ or ‘somewhat dishonest’, with only 22 per cent believing that the reverse is true (‘honest’ or ‘very honest’ portrayals).

The survey points out that public mistrust of social media content is in line with perceptions of TV advertising. Almost half do not trust adverts they see on TV.

“Taken as a whole, the data suggests that as the lines between reality and fantasy blur on social media, many users have developed filters for what is real and what is not,” adds YouGov, which has produced a white paper on Honesty and Social Media.

“Moreover, users’ overall tolerance towards this inauthenticity suggests that, for the time being at least, ‘unreal’ content still has a home on social media.”