Social Media Trust Tracker — July 2024

July, 2024

Two hundred and twenty-eight million Americans use social media*, but many have a love-hate relationship with their social platforms, particularly when it comes to trust. Since November 2022, Horizon Media’s WHY Group has been keeping a pulse on how much people trust social media platforms and how that changes amid persistent news headlines and changes in the landscape. We survey over 900 Americans regularly to understand their views of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X, Reddit, and Discord based on their experiences and any news they may have come across through Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse panel.

Previously, we reported that even though users rate platforms poorly on trustworthiness — which they deem important — they continue to use social media. In this fifth issue of the Social Media Trust Tracker, we continue to look at how much people trust social media platforms so that marketers can continue to assess which platforms they should be using, if this impacts advertising believability and if there are any brand safety concerns.

Major shake-ups in early 2024 further prompted us to ask:

  • With election season underway, for marketers who use social media, is there cause for concern during the run-up to the election?
  • Has the government’s negative stance on TikTok created a halo that necessitates a change in media strategy?

What we found:

  • Platform trust scores level out, although they continue to remain low.

  • Despite distrust, social media’s use cases continue to grow across everything from relaxation to commerce to news consumption. Use and trust remain independent.

  • With an election on the horizon, expect Gen Z and Millennials to be even more glued to social media as they follow election news.

  • The election could prove a minefield for platforms — more than half of people say they would leave a platform over mishandling political information, and more than half of people are open to trying new social platforms.

  • However, platform inertia is strong, and users are slow to leave. Even the government’s concerns over TikTok have not dissuaded users, more than 75% of whom currently intend to maintain or increase their use.

  • Trust in advertisers remains distinct from the trust in platforms, staying high regardless of people’s opinions about the platform.

To read the full report, download the PDF below.

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