Consumption of information on social networks decreases as trust decreases

Thursday, August 13, 2020 4:26 PM

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The number of people accessing news via social media has plummeted over the past year as trust in online platforms has declined, new figures have revealed.

The proportion of Britons using social media sites to catch up on the latest stories has fallen to 45% in 2020, from 49% last year, according to media watchdog Ofcom.

It came as social media users reported lower levels of satisfaction with the platforms, rating them lower on measures such as trust, fairness and accuracy.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users also said they were less likely to share or retweet trending articles and videos than they were in 2019.

Social media companies have come under heavy criticism during the coronavirus crisis amid accusations that they are not doing enough to crack down on misinformation posted on their platforms.

Overall, television remains the most popular information access platform, winning 75% of votes. Next comes the Internet with 65%, while radio comes in third place with 42%.

More than a third of UK adults get their news from print newspapers, although this rises to 47% when newspaper websites and apps are taken into account.

The figures, which do not cover news consumption during the Covid-19 lockdown, highlight the enduring popularity of traditional media, even amid a steady decline in readership and viewership.

Separate research from Ofcom shows that the use of traditional media was even higher during the pandemic, with 87% of adults citing broadcast, newspapers and radio as their main sources of news and information on the coronavirus in the latest survey.

While BBC One remains the most popular news source overall, figures show its popularity has declined over the past year.

The proportion of adults using BBC channels fell from 85% to 83% last year. Meanwhile, business rival Sky has increased usage from 30% to 33%.

It comes at a turbulent time for the public service broadcaster, which is facing political pressure over its funding model, accusations of impartiality and a black hole in its finances due to Covid-19.