Mar 20, 2017

Trust in news depends on who's sharing it

Ahmed Aqtai/Pixels

A new study by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests that a publisher's credibility is greatly affected by the people who distribute its content.

Two-thirds of respondents said their trust in news they encountered on Facebook depended on the news source. When the article was shared by someone they trusted, though, that number dropped to 48%. Overall, readers were more likely to trust and engage with news brands if shared by a person they trust.

Why it matters: Before news distribution became algorithmic, allowing anyone to instantly spread it, publishers could control their brand through the content they produced and strategic marketing efforts. Now, news brands need to consider how their content could be skewed, and inadvertedly marketed by those who share it, especially because people are increasingly sharing news links they never even click on. The study echoes previous findings that as younger generations develop closer relationships with platforms over publishers, their trust has shifted from news producers to news distributors.

Case In point: When asked in a Pew survey last month about the name of the news source a story came from, 10% of survey respondents wrote in "Facebook" as a specific outlet.

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