Fake news fallout: Cascading collapse in trust for social media platforms, search and governments

The Edelman Trust Barometer survey has uncovered an "unprecedented crisis of trust" in the US and huge falls in 22 countries — fake facts take the blame
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Business must lead to rebuild trust says Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman.

Facebook, Google and Twitter's failure to deal with the damaging effects of fake news has created a broad distrust in social media platforms, search engines and news applications reports the Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 -- a survey of more than 33,000 people in 28 countries.

But trust in journalism has improved greatly and there is now a wide divide between peoples' low regard for media platforms and their much improved respect for journalists and journalism.

Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, the largest privately held public relations company, said there is "an unprecedented crisis of trust in the U.S." Especially the U.S. government, followed by business, NGOs and media.

"This is the first time that a massive drop in trust has not been linked to a pressing economic issue or catastrophe like the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In fact, it's the ultimate irony that it's happening at a time of prosperity, with the stock market and employment rates in the U.S. at record highs. The root cause of this fall is the lack of objective facts and rational discourse."

A small amount of fake news and the inability of social media platforms and search engines to deal with it has created a cascade of trust issues across all types of institutions in most countries surveyed.

U.S. double blow...

It's a large fallout with a potentially large long-term cost for the US media platforms. Facebook shares fell more than 6% when it announced it would stop showing as many news stories in users' feeds -- which signaled that it couldn't find an engineering solution. Algorithms and artificial intelligence aren't able to cope.

Plus trust in companies headquartered in the U.S. showed the largest fall among all countries surveyed. A double-blow for the U.S. media platforms.

Questioning reality...

The Edelman report discovered that large numbers of people (63%) said they could not trust themselves to know if a news story was from a reputable journalistic source or "tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods."

Yet people's trust in journalism and journalists jumped by double-digits -- the largest of all categories.

Trust in business...

Edelman says that the global crisis in trust can only be addressed by the business community. Nearly two-thirds of respondents expect CEOs to lead on policy-change and not wait on government action. Businesses have a far higher trust rating than government institutions.

...building trust (69 percent) is now the No. 1 job for CEOs, surpassing producing high-quality products and services (68 percent)....

Technology firms are the most trusted industries (but not the tech media platforms) at 75%; Education 70%; professional services, 68%; transportation 67%; automative 62%; packaged goods 60% and financial services at 54%.

More details here:

The news release

The PDF of the report

Please see:

No news: The engineering failure to block fake news and hate speech

2018 prediction: The endangered hyperlink

NetSolving Silicon Valley's diversity problem

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