By: Haroon Siddique of The Guardian
It has been credited with everything from democratising news to helping to overthrow dictators but it appears that the love affair with social media may be over.
Only 24% of the UK population trust the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram when looking for news and information, a survey has found.
The Edelman trust barometer, published on Monday, suggests the days when social media was championed as an enabler of citizen journalists and for its role in the Arab Spring have passed.
Instead, its copybook has been blotted by fake news and it has provoked concerns about cyberbullying, dissemination of extremist propaganda and how Snapchat, WhatsApp and other apps are affecting children.
At the same time, the survey found there had been a striking 13-point increase in support for traditional media, to 61% – the highest level since 2012.
Amy Orben, a social media psychologist and lecturer at Oxford University, said: “Social media companies are just experiencing what some of their more traditional rivals experienced at their launch.
“With any new technology, you have a spark of interest and at some point the baby is thrown out with the bathwater. The public debate has changed over the last year. There have been a lot of worrying statistics which have led the public discourse to change and these numbers are a reflection of that.”
A host of reports have warned of the negative impacts of social media on children’s mental health. Social media has been accused of encouraging bullying, exacerbating body image worries and causing sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. The NSPCC has even cited it as a major cause of the dramatic increase in the numbers of children admitted to hospital after self-harming.