Over two-thirds (68%) of people say they’re searching online for COVID-19 updates – which makes it the most popular online activity, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey.

Its researchers questioned almost 4,000 US and UK consumers, and found that it’s men (73%) who are more likely to be looking for coronavirus news than women (62%), but it’s still the number one online activity for both genders.

The survey, conducted between March 25 and 30, found only a third of people are searching online for topics that are not related to the virus.

It's clear from the findings, GlobalWebIndex says, that, in the US, there is significant distrust in what the government is saying – consumers there trust the World Health Organization far more than their own government (61% versus 46%). People in the UK have more faith in officialdom, with 62% saying they trust information on their government’s website.

Facebook is the go-to platform for updates on the pandemic in the UK, with 30% of people saying it’s their primary source; this is even more pronounced in the US where 47% cite Facebook as their number one source.

Overall, 39% of UK consumers say they’re reading more news stories on social media as a result of the pandemic. But men are three times as likely as women to say they’ve started following more journalists on social media (25% vs. 8%).

The vast majority of US (87%) and UK (80%) consumers say they’ve increased their consumption of indoor media generally since the virus crisis began. Broadcast TV, online videos and online TV streaming were cited as the most popular channels.

The results, researchers say, show people primarily see news as a free resource during the outbreak. Among higher earners and men there is parity between the rate of those who are willing to pay for trustworthy news and those who aren’t, but there is generally far more pushback against paying for news in the UK.

CEO and founder of GlobalWebIndex Tom Smith said, “In the UK, the rate of those who are resistant to paying for trustworthy news is almost four times higher than the rate of those who are willing to pay for it. This is a reflection of the fact that UK consumers have much stronger confidence in the trustworthiness of the free news resources available to them compared to those in the US.”

A third of consumers in both markets say they want to see more topics that have nothing to do with the coronavirus, and almost 20% of millennials say they’re currently searching for holidays, perhaps suggesting this age group may be more open to planning for life beyond the current crisis.

Sourced from GlobalWebIndex