Americans trust health orgs, but still turn to the news on social media – by Chris Zaccaro

Back in April we reported that the Pew Research Center discovered Americans had been far more trusting of the World Health Organization (WHO) than the media when it came to reliable information about COVID-19. But recent research from Pew shows American Facebook users have been FAR more likely to share coronavirus information from a news agency than a health agency like the WHO.

This comes after Global Web Index’s April 2020 Report on Media Consumption and Sport stated only 37% of Americans believed TV news channels were a trustworthy source.

In March, when the pandemic was at its scariest point, 75% of coronavirus-related Facebook posts with a link were linking back to news organizations. Just a measly 1% of shared posts linked to health care websites—such as the WHO, CDC or other state and federal health agencies.

You were also far more likely to see higher engagement on a news organization’s post than that of a health or science agency. More than likely this is because there are probably more news outlets to follow on Facebook than anything else—and outlets and journalists are extremely active with their social outreach.

Even though much criticism has been thrown at Facebook this year and many are bearish on its future popularity, data shows the platform still remains the undisputed king of social media. Over the course of the lockdown the social network experienced record usage and had many eyes on its news feeds.

This helps demonstrate that, even though overall trust in the news and social media is down, people still turn to them to get their information. *Not only that, it’s what they’re sharing with people they care about too.

We recently cited a number of examples of local industry leaders who, in the middle of the crisis, shared positive stories by working with the media. Based on this recent report, their efforts were well worth it. It all goes to show that a media appearance is still one of the most successful avenues for positioning yourself as a subject matter expert or effectively sharing your story.

*You should always verify your sources of information before sharing it with others—especially on serious matters like the coronavirus. Facebook, like many other social media platforms, is a forum where misinformation spreads easily and often.

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