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More than 36% of Web users “highly trust” the information they receive from friends and acquaintances in their online social networks, according to a new social internet survey by Faves.com (formerly BlueDot.us). The number jumps to 90% when including those that “moderately trust” their social network contacts.

In contrast, just 4% highly trust content/opinions from vendors or advertisers, 4% highly trust comments on blogs or forums, and 3% highly trust news communities such as Digg or Reddit.

The same survey found that 34% of respondents visit a social-networking site at least weekly.

“People trust their online social networks more than any other online resource,” said Rob Dickerson, CEO of Faves.com. “Also, today people are much more comfortable posting to the Web, whether it’s expressing an opinion, uploading digital content, or adding a comment on a blog.”

More than 70% said they sometimes or frequently rely on online product or book reviews, and another 62% rely on the popularity of information based on users’ votes or ratings.

“Two years ago, only 13% of the people we surveyed visited a social-networking site weekly – today, that number is 34%. Two years ago only 9% visited a media sharing site, such as YouTube or Flickr, weekly – today, that number is 26%,” Dickerson added.

When asked if they participate in the following activities now and two years ago; respondents reported the following:

  • 78% of have recently voted or rated something online, compared with 47% two years ago.
  • 63% have recently uploaded photographs or videos; 40% had two years ago.
  • 44% have recently commented on a forum or blog; 23% had two years ago.
  • 28% have recently written a product or book review: 15% had two years ago.
  • 16% now maintain a blog; 9% were maintaining a blog two years ago.

Some?69% of respondents said they use the internet at least weekly to keep up with friends and family, 48% to follow a favorite hobby, and 53% to follow special interests.

While more people are using the internet for social networking and for tracking topics they find interesting, only 25% of respondents said the internet definitely met their needs with regard to following favorite hobbies, and 29% with regard to following special interests.

“While half of the people surveyed use the web to track special interests, only 8% of them are using social news sites to do it,” said Dickerson.

About the study: The survey, sponsored by Faves.com, was conducted by Zoomerang; 820 people between the ages of 18 and 65 based in the United States responded.

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