The vast majority of internet users around the world lack confidence in what they see and read online, new research claims, with just 8% thinking that three-quarters or more of the information they get from social media is true.

That figure falls to 4% when it comes to information from supposedly trusted influencers like celebrities and bloggers/vloggers, according to media agency UM, which surveyed more than 56,000 active internet users across 81 countries for its tenth global social media tracker, Wave X – Remix Culture.

Even governments are seen as more trustworthy than most influencers, the report suggested: 12% think governments are mostly truthful, although this falls to 8% and 6% in the UK and US respectively.

Among the other findings:
  • Almost half of internet users worldwide (46%) believe most of the news they see online is fake. That rises to 54% in the UK.
  • Less than half (47% globally, 44% in the UK) say they’re influenced by opinions shared online (compared to 54% globally, 46% UK in 2017 when the Wave 9 was conducted).
  • Around half (47% both globally and in the UK) say they have less faith in experts and institutions than they used to Less than half trust bloggers/vloggers’ opinions on products and services (42% globally, 36% in the UK).
Where social networks still have a role, said UM, is as an enabler of communities and in fostering a sense of belonging. More than half of internet users (51% in the UK, 60% globally) consider those networks to be ‘an integral part of their social life’.

“The research highlights how headlines over the past two years have made people more aware of issues surrounding credibility and transparency on the internet,” said Liz Haas, Head of Client Insight EMEA at UM.

“This is particularly the case with social media – scandals like Cambridge Analytica have had a huge impact on the extent to which people question what they see and hear online.

“It’s clear that trust is fast becoming the currency of the new internet, and brands able to demonstrate that they’re transparent and responsible in the moments that matter are going to be best placed to succeed.”

Sourced from UM; additional content by WARC staff