Report: Consumers Rely on Social Platforms for News

NEW ORLEANS – A new report from the Gulf South Index, produced by The Ehrhardt Group and Causeway Solutions, says that consumer confidence in traditional institutions such as government and media are being replaced with a newfound trust in businesses and CEOs as reliable sources of information. In fact, for the first time, less than 50% of Americans trust traditional media and social media only carries about 27% of consumer trust according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.  

Misinformation is a major concern as people are having a hard time figuring out who and what to believe. Consumers are experiencing difficulties in getting the facts straight as they struggle to verify accuracy and sources, and often share information without vetting it as factual first.

Nearly one-third of Americans say Facebook is a regular source of news for them and social media platforms are constantly waging a battle with misinformation.

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“Despite the widespread problem of inaccurate information on social media, people are still turning to social platforms for their news,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “This may be due to convenience, habit or a willingness to absorb information knowing that it may not be completely reliable.”

According to a Pew Research Center report, the top social sites for news are:

  • 36% Facebook
  • 23% YouTube
  • 15% Twitter
  • 11% Instagram
  • 6% Reddit
  • 4% Snapchat
  • 4% LinkedIn
  • 3% TikTok

It should be noted that some of the lower percentage usage is due to a lower number of consumers using these platforms overall. For example, 42% of Reddit users get their news regularly on the platform, but overall, it has a very small user base as just 15% of U.S. adults surveyed report using Reddit at all.

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By the Numbers

In addition to tackling misinformation, consumers are struggling with the shear amount of information available across all outlets and it is causing many to feel overwhelmed and overloaded. In an effort to stay well-informed, 39% of Americans say they stick to their one or two trusted sources, according to Gallup. Further, 30% say they consult a variety of sources to find a consensus, 18% avoid news altogether and 9% rely on other people to help them decide what information they need to know. Age plays a role, too, as those 65+ are more likely to pick just one or two sources, while those 18-29 are more likely to look to multiple sources for information.

Local news, meanwhile, is still considered to be a trusted source for information. More than 75% of Gulf South residents say that local news media does “very well” or “fairly well” in keeping them informed.

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Local news is a major player in connecting residents to their communities.

33% of Americans say they follow news about their local community very closely and 72% say the news media is “critical” or “very important” in making them feel connected to their community. Those who get most of their news from print publications feel the most confident in their knowledge of community news, followed by those who get most of their news from television. Consumers who get most of their news online feel the least confident that they are knowledgeable about issues in their local communities, according to Gallup. 


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