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June 19, 2012

Why be informed by something you don't trust?

(Thanks to Invicta Properties)
Last week, on one of the best Twitter blogs out there, AllTwitter, I saw an interesting post , which made me stop and think for a minute.

Apparently, Americans increasingly use social media of various types to stay informed, yet their trust level of social media is actually pretty low, according to a new study.
"The Allstate Corporation and National Journal surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, and found that while some 60 percent of Americans believe that the internet and social media has made it easier for them to stay informed as consumers, more than two-thirds (69 percent) believe that brands and political candidates are active on social media to advertise or because they want to collect information on their customers or supporters, rather than to engage."
So in other words, these people use social media, and feel more informed because they use social media.

Yet, they also mistrust what they're reading/seeing.

What am I missing here?

How can you be "better informed" if you don't believe what you're seeing?

Of course, I don't take everything I read on Twitter or Facebook (especially Facebook) as given, without at least checking it first. If a number of different sources are saying the same thing, then I'm more inclined to believe it.

But taking something with a grain of salt and not going off half-cocked about something is far different from not believing it. Because of that, I do feel that I'm better-informed because of social media, or at least Twitter (still not sure on the Facebook front).

The money part in that excerpt is that many people believe they are being manipulated or having their data collected rather than being engaged with on social media. I'm not sure what data collection they can do other than "number of Twitter followers" on Twitter, though Facebook could potentially be a bit more insidious.

The thing is, other than the data collection angle, I don't see how social media is any different than anything else in regards to how a company, politician, or what have you interacts with the public. Yes, they are using it for advertising. They're trying to get their message out.

So you see the message. You are informed because you know what the entity is trying to get across. And yet you mistrust that message because...why? Would you trust it any less if you saw it in a commercial?

There seems to be a disconnect between these two statistics, and I'm hoping that one of you can clear up my confusion.

Because I'm at a loss.

(Yes, I said "last week" at the top of this post. I realize I've been gone for a bit. Sorry about that)


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