Australia is the country that trusts social media the least, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer.

The annual report found Australia, alongside France, is the least trusting country globally in social media — 26 per cent compared to the global average of 43 per cent.

Now in its 19th year, the Edelman Trust Barometer findings are based on a survey of more than 33,000 respondents consisting of 1,150 general population respondents per country, and 500 informed public respondents in the US and China and 200 informed public respondents in all other countries across 27 markets.

The Australian analysis released this week shows we’re generally a skeptical nation. Although it has risen from last year, Australia’s trust index is below the global average — 48 per cent versus 52 per cent.

Similarly, as an institution, trust in the media as a whole increased 9 points in the last year to 40 per cent but its score remains in distrusted territory.  

The report argues consumers are looking for reliable sources with nearly two in three Australians (64 per cent) concerned about the impact of fake news. Within the global results, 77 per cent are worried about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.  

Search faired better than social — trust in search engines is up 10-points, to 57 per cent. While traditional media remains the most trusted source of information for Australia at 61 per cent.

The global results, illustrated in the chart below, show traditional media and search engines are the most trusted.

The report also found Australians’ media engagement has increased 26 points, with 66 per cent of the mass population consuming and sharing more news.   

Fear factors

The top three fears among Australia’s general population are related to:

  • Hackers, cyber-attacks and cyber-terrorism (68 per cent)
  • Reliance on overseas goods (65 per cent)
  • Loss of the Australian way of life (65 per cent)

Fear of job loss remains high among Australians, 47 per cent of employees worrying about not having the training and skills necessary to get a good paying job and 48 per cent employees worrying about automation or other innovations threatening job security.

And only one in three Australians believe they and their family will be better off in five years’ time.

More broadly, Australia’s most trusted institution is “my employer” (77 per cent), verses government (42 per cent) and business (52 per cent). Media is way back at 40 per cent.

The report also found Australians expect to see leadership from the business sector. 79 per cent say CEOs should take the lead on change rather than wait for the government to impose it, up 14 points compared to last year.

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