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While the trust US adults have in the media has experienced a considerable dip in recent years, there are indications that trust in mass media is returning. And yet despite this growing trust, it’s clear that the seemingly steady flow of fake news being shared through social media and other online avenues has changed the way Americans are viewing and sharing news online, per a new report [download page] from the Reuters Institute.

Among the more than 2,000 US adults surveyed (as part of a global survey of more than 75,000 respondents), 2 in 5 (40%) report that in the past year they are relying on more reputable news sources. Along that same line, one-third (34%) of US respondents say they are no longer using sources with a more questionable reputation for accuracy.

Mistrust has also led respondents to take the initiative to delve deeper into the validity of a news story. Almost half (47%) of respondents say they check the accuracy of a story by comparing multiple sources.

Recent data from found that, due to algorithm changes by Facebook, referral traffic has seen a decline for many categories, with news referrals declining by one-third (33%) in 2018. While this decline is referrals correlates with the aforementioned algorithm changes, it may also be due to the change in sharing habits by individuals. In the US, slightly more than one-third (35%) of respondents report that they decided not to share an unreliable news article on social media in the last year.

In an effort to do its part to fight the spread of misinformation and rumors, WhatsApp tightened its limit on the number of times a user can forward a message. However, while nearly half (46%) of respondents who use WhatsApp in a sample of 9 countries analyzed say they participated in public groups chats on the platform to discuss news and related topics, many people are participating in private groups with family (47%), friends (43%) and work colleagues (30%).

What does this prevalent use of private groups on WhatsApp mean to marketers? As Facebook moves more towards using WhatsApp for commercial purposes it will be difficult for marketers to track audiences that are engaging in private chats, adding an extra factor to the existing challenge of cross-channel measurement and attribution.

To learn more, download the report here.

About the Data: Some 75,749 people were surveyed worldwide, with 2012 being from the US. The research was conducted by YouGov using an online questionnaire at the end of January/beginning of February 2019.

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