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Facebook Australia’s ‘most distrusted’ media brand: survey Image supplied by Roy Morgan Research

Social media is deeply distrusted by Australians, with Facebook by far the most distrusted media brand, according to a national survey by Roy Morgan Research.

According to the Roy Morgan MEDIA Net Trust Score Survey half of all Australians — or 47% — distrust social media, compared to only 4% who distrust, for example, magazines. And the survey found that the national broadcaster, the ABC, is by far Australia’s most trusted media organisation, with only 9% saying they distrusted the ABC.

Distrust of social media was highest amongst young Australians, with 68%  of 18 to 24-year-olds, and 53% of 25 to 34-year-olds distrusting social media the most, while men (49%) distrust social media marginally more than women (45%).

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

“Australians told us that their distrust of social media is being driven by fake news, manipulated truth, false statistics and fake audience measurement. They are feeling the shock of discovering they were foolish to trust the global platforms too much.”

According to survey respondents, their top 5 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

And why does distrust matter?  Well, according to Levine:

• Distrust triggers audience churn

• Distrust kills audience engagement

• Distrust kills advertiser spend

• Distrust is the tipping point for reputational damage

• Distrust is the bellwether for an unsustainable future

“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%, however, its distrust score is 47%.

“So, when we subtract one from the other we reveal a social media NTS of minus 42%, making it more toxic even than the banking industry,” Levine said.

“We have also conducted four surveys of all brands, and they reveal the banking industry as the worst performer with an NTS of minus 18% , compared to the media industry with an NTS of minus 7%.

“But even the banks’ negative NTS is low compared to social media.

Facebook is the most distrusted media brand in Australia with an NTS of minus 39%.

“This is where we get a powerful sense of how toxic social media in Australia really is,” she said.

Roy Morgan’s survey covered approximately 4000 Australians over four months with respondents asked why they trust or distrust nominated media brands.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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