The Media Net Trust Score Survey, conducted in May by Roy Morgan, reveals a deep distrust of  social media in Australia, with Facebook by far the most distrusted media brand.

The Facebook result replicates studies in the US this year (see chart below) and demonstrates how much the Cambridge Analytica story cut through with consumers. In Australia its Net Trust Score is now minus 39.

The US data shows Facebook’s problems are universal. Source: Recode

Half of all Australians (47 per cent) distrust social media, compared to only 4 per cent who distrust, for example, magazines.

Young Australians distrust social media the most – 68 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds, and 53 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds. Men (49 per cent) distrust social media marginally more than women (45 per cent).

According to Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine, trust is now firmly on corporate Australia’s agenda, but distrust is the critical measure everyone is ignoring.

“Distrust is where our deepest fears, pain, and betrayal surface – the shock of discovering we were foolish to trust too much. And nowhere is that sense of betrayal more profound than with social media.”

According to survey respondents, their top five drivers of distrust in social media are:

  1. Fake News / manipulation of the truth
  2. False statistics / audience measurement
  3. Personal information stolen & distributed
  4. Anyone can make claims without any evidence
  5. News is sensationalised / becomes entertainment

Levine said that distrust was bad news for publishers and advertisers alike. It triggers audience churn, kills engagement and suppresses advertising spend.

“The real picture is revealed only when distrust is subtracted from trust to reveal a Net Trust Score or NTS,” Levine said.

Social Media’s TRUST score is 5 per cent, while it’s DISTRUST score is 47 per cent. When subtracted, the Social Media NTS comes to minus 42 per cent, making it more toxic even than the banking industry with an NTS of minus 18 per cent. The media industry has an NTS of minus 7 per cent.

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