Brits’ trust for social media is the lowest in the world

If you live in the UK, the chances are you don’t have a great deal of trust for the information you absorb on social media. That’s according to a wide-ranging survey of 25,000 people from the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project revealed in The Guardian.

In all, just 12% of Brits said they trusted information found on social media, while 83% said they didn’t. That puts the UK well below Germany (20%), the USA (23%) and Canada (28%), but it’s developing nations where trust is highest with a very slight majority of Indians, Thais and Saudis expressing faith in social media news.

So does it follow that Brits would also like to see stricter regulation of Facebook and Twitter? Encouragingly for a government that has made these kind of noises, the answer seems to be ‘yes’. Over 60% of UK respondents backed increased regulation for social media companies, while just 6% thought there was too much. Fifteen percent think it’s just right as it is.

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These results make for interesting reading and are useful for gauging a general public mood, but I’d personally take them with a giant pinch of salt. Just because people say they don’t trust social media news doesn’t mean they’re immune to being taken in by a hoax or conspiracy theory doing the rounds, especially if it comes with a heady dose of confirmation bias. Generally speaking, people like to think of themselves as more sceptical than they are when actually tested.

Likewise “more regulation” is an incredibly abstract term. What regulation? How? Does it mean bigger fines, an outright ban or state control? It can mean different things in different regions too, which might explain why things are more polarised in somewhere like Turkey (61% in favour, 16% saying there’s too much).

That doesn’t mean these findings aren’t interesting, and it does suggest an appetite for change. It’s just that not all changes are for the better, and sometimes it’s best to be careful what you wish for.

Are you in favour of greater regulation for social media? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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