The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer is an annual study which delves into consumer trust issues. For the second year running the survey of 33,000 people from 28 countries around the world has found that more people trust Google than trust news outlets.
63% of respondents said that they would trust a headline seen in the Google news feed more than they would trust the same headline in the newspaper that it was originally run in, which is very odd and can be explained as trust in Google. 58% of respondents trust traditional media and 53% trust online only media. Google's trust factor has been growing over the years and it is now the second most trusted company in the world (behind BMW - provided the emissions scandal does not reach them). All in all there has been a surge in trust for search engines among consumers, which must be one of the key goals of their algorithm changes.
Other findings from the study include the revelation that 78% of people trust news shared by their family and friends but only 65% of people trust information from academic experts and 44% that from journalists.
In summary people are increasingly getting the information that they trust from people they know on social media. This can be extremely unreliable, for such reasons as the number of spoof news sites which run parody articles which are often difficult to tell apart from real news.
Sadly standards of professional journalism have fallen over the years, and relatively few publications can now be relied upon to give a factual and unbiased account of the stories that affect us each day.
Could it be that a more social approach to news is the best way to get factual information? In most social groups there are people who are generally trusted to give their opinion on what is going on and it is those people to whom social groups are increasingly turning.
Better that than putting too much power in Google's hands.