Public Relations Tactics

Study: Who Shares News on Social Media Determines Credibility

April 3, 2017


How much Americans trust news they see on social media is determined less by the organization that publishes the story than by who shares it, new research suggests.

Whether readers trust the person sharing the news matters more than whether the a real news organization or a fake one is producing the story, says the study by the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In an experiment, 1,489 Americans were presented with the same news-feed story, but the person who shared it and the original reporting sources were varied.

The findings suggest that a news organization’s credibility is significantly affected by who is sharing its stories on social media. People who see an article from a trusted sharer — even one written by an unknown media source — believe the veracity of the information far more than people who see the same article from a reputable news organization that was shared by someone they don’t trust. When people see a post from someone they have faith in, they’re more likely to recommend the news source to friends, follow it on social media and sign up for the alerts.

Before the days of social media, the platforms people used to receive their news — a newspaper, magazine, television or radio station — and the news brand were the same thing, with the outlet’s own credibility determining if a story was trusted. Today, Americans often get their news from other people. — Greg Beaubien


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