The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general

Mont'Alverne, Camila and Badrinathan, Sumitra and Ross Arguedas, Amy and Toff, Benjamin and Fletcher, Richard and Kleis Nielsen, Rasmus (2022) The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (

[thumbnail of MontAlverne_et_al_The_Trust_Gap]
Text. Filename: MontAlverne_et_al_The_Trust_Gap.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 logo

Download (1MB)| Preview


What role, if any, do social media, search engines, and messaging apps play in eroding the public’s confidence in the news media? In virtual roundtable discussions with small groups of journalists and publishers last year (Toff et al. 2021a), many expressed concern that digital platforms were at least partly to blame for declining levels of trust in news in many places around the world (Newman et al. 2022). Some worried that platforms enable bad-faith criticism of journalism to circulate more easily and insidiously while polluting the information environment with low quality substitutes for factual reporting. Others saw platforms as undermining news audiences’ connections with their brands, even as they often saw digital media intermediaries as essential to reaching segments of the public least likely to tune in through legacy modes such as print or broadcast. In this report, the latest instalment of our ongoing Trust in News Project, we explore these questions from the perspective of audiences. Drawing on an original dataset of survey responses collected in the summer of 2022 across four countries – Brazil, India, the UK, and the US – we examine the relationship between trust in news and how people think about news on digital platforms, especially Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and YouTube, some of the most widely used platforms around the world. What we find is somewhat nuanced; how people think about information on platforms varies considerably. It depends on the platform, it depends on the country, it depends on the audiences within those countries, and it depends on the kinds of news those audiences are encountering in these varying spaces.