Press release

12 May 2020 , 07:00 London, GB

Trust in the media declines amongst young people as fear of coronavirus related fake news spreads, EY study finds

According to the survey of 2,000 UK consumers, nearly one-fifth (17%) of 18-24 year-olds say they trust online news sources less today than before the crisis.

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Annabel Banks

EY UK&I Media Relations Manager

A highly experienced communications professional with cross-sector experience in media relations having worked with global brands spanning elite professional services firms to digital start-ups.

  • Almost a quarter (24%) of younger audiences say they now trust social media less than they did, compared to 17% of all households surveyed
  • 17% of younger UK audiences question what they see and read more online than before the crisis, compared to only 9% of those aged over 55
  • 39% of households using social media more than usual for updates and to stay in touch with family and friends
  • Media enjoys increased consumption while UK households look for extra news fix

LONDON, Tuesday 12 May 2020: The current crisis has made young UK audiences more discerning and questioning of what content they see and read through all media channels, a new EY survey reveals today.

According to the survey of 2,000 UK consumers, nearly one-fifth (17%) of 18-24 year-olds say they trust online news sources less today than before the crisis. This is not an insignificant number – it is the highest among any demographic and almost twice those aged over 55 (9%).

The same discernment manifests itself explicitly on social media. Of all UK households, 17% say they now trust social media less than they did before the coronavirus outbreak. Yet this number is highest in the younger age group at 24%. The COVID-19 crisis has created a tumult of fact and fiction with reported misinformation, uninformed opinion or fake news.

Heightened scepticism of fake news among UK households

EY’s survey finds that the rolling news and constant updates have created a heightened scepticism among UK households about news and information posted online. In the minds of the majority of consumers, fake news is a very real issue. Two thirds of consumers (67%) believe social media platforms have a chance to do more to police fake news and should be taking action. In addition, over half of consumers (52%) believe some of the responsibility for this lies with regulators and agree the government should do more. This is more prominent for younger audiences – with 57% saying the government should do more, encouraging social media companies to be more transparent and credible in their efforts to combat fake news. EY urges governments and social media companies to collaborate with the news ecosystem to deal with fake news which is increasingly becoming an industry-wide problem.

Martyn Whistler, Global Lead Media and Entertainment Analyst at EY, comments: “In these exceptional times the demand for news and information is unprecedented. In different ways, different news outlets are meeting that demand. However, what will define their ability to retain audiences in this ‘new normal’ has much to do with how they build trust with audiences and maintain credibility. Companies that seize the opportunity and accelerate this transformation will emerge from the crisis ahead of the competition.”

Media consumption is on the up

With half (50%) of UK households saying they are looking for more news now than before the crisis, and 39% using social media more than usual for updates and to stay in touch with friends and family – media consumption and traffic is clearly on a high.

Praveen Shankar, EY’s Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) for the UK & Ireland, says: “Companies need to be thinking about how they can use the increased level of traffic and positive perceptions about their performance to engage with customers beyond this crisis period.

“There is a significant opportunity for media companies to invest now to ensure they remain at the heart of the household. For several years, the use of technology has been a hot topic in newsrooms, but these technologies are now coming of age. For example, in a world of fake news, a simple blockchain solution for validating sources, can provide credibility and a cement trust.”