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      Should you trust social media?

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      The British public are calling for increased social media regulations as many begin to reject social media sites for sources they consider more trustworthy

      Believing that social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have growing links to cyberbullying and harassment, more than half of people are turning away from these mediums as a way to combat misleading, biased and false information.

      As part of Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer, it was revealed that more than half of us don’t know which articles shared by our friends, family and other sources online are ‘Fake News’, with 64% admitting they don’t know the difference between a trusted news source and an advertisement, hoax or deliberately misleading site. Nearly two thirds of people believe social media companies lack regulation and transparency, with fears that their data is being sold without their knowledge.

      Turning to trusted, more traditional sources such as newspapers and TV, with known regulatory boards like OFCOM, around 53% of the British public are concerned that the reliance on social media has grown too quickly. Younger Brits have even admitted to quit social media altogether, with one in 10 having turned away from Facebook over the last year.

      Although traditional broadcasters have reached a trustworthiness not seen in more than five years, other dedicated news sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post have seen a boost in popularity. Despite this, one in three people across the country are beginning to turn away from news, and one in five no longer check up on current events at all. Social media companies are being urged to step up to the plate as 70% of respondents believe that these sites didn’t do enough to address controversies through 2017.

      “The public want action on key issues related to online protection, and to see their concerns addressed through better regulation,” explained Ed Williams, Edelman CEO. “Failure on their part to act risks further erosion of trust and therefore public support.”

      Despite living in the age of instant information, a large number of the public are completely rejecting news as untrustworthy, with around 50% of those rejecting the news concerned that news providers are either too biased or house ‘hidden agendas’. Around 40%, however, are turning off the news simply because recent devastations, scandals and global threats are too depressing.

      “The breadth of information available on the internet is not resulting in the same depth we once saw,” continued Williams. “As we look at some of the big problems we face in the 21st century, it should be of significant concern to us all that we are becoming a nation of news-skimmers and news-avoiders.

      “It’s frightening that the professional classes, the people we rely on to take an interest in social affairs and to hold politicians to account, are the most pronounced news avoiders.”

      Social media is a bit of a minefield. Do you still trust what you read online? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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      Toby Cruse

      Content Writer - PA Life

      All stories by: Toby Cruse