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Trust, Facts, Democracy



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Lee Rainie, director of internet and technology research, presented a synthesis of the Pew Research Center’s growing explorations of issues related to trust, facts and democracy at a forum hosted by the International Institute of Communications on December 5, 2018. His presentation covered Center findings related to declining trust in institutions, increasing challenges tied to misinformation and the ways in which concerns about trust and truth are linked to public attitudes about democracy.

Trust, Facts, Democracy

  1. 1. Trust, Facts, Democracy Lee Rainie Director, Internet and Technology Research
  2. 2. Trust
  3. 3. Trust in the federal government stuck at historic low Source: Pew Research Center “Government Gets Lower Ratings for Handling Health Care, Environment, Disaster Response” Dec. 14, 2017. From 1976-2017, the trend line represents a three-survey moving average. How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right? Just about always/ Most of the time19% 67% Only some of the time 13% Never (Volunteered)
  4. 4. Consistent Liberals & Conservatives Often Live in Different Media Worlds
  5. 5. Little Overlap in the Sources Trusted for Political News
  6. 6. Many users see social media as an especially negative venue for political discussions compared with face-to-face % of social media users who say their political discussions are more or less __ compared with other places people might discuss politics
  7. 7. 41% have personally experience online harassment (66% have witnessed it)
  8. 8. Facts
  9. 9. Most say Clinton, Trump supporters cannot agree even on ‘basic facts’ On important issues facing the country, most Trump and Clinton supporters … (%)
  10. 10. Fake news is seen as a problem – 1 Majority says fake news leaves Americans confused about basic facts
  11. 11. Fake news is seen as a problem – 2 23% report sharing fabricated news
  12. 12. 26% of Americans have had false information posted about them % of U.S. adults who have had untrue information about them posted online
  13. 13. 14 Younger Americans are better able to distinguish between facts and opinions % of U.S. adults in each age group who correctly classified ____ factual statements as factual
  14. 14. Democracy
  15. 15. Declining share of Americans holds a mix of liberal and conservative views Distribution of the public on a 10-item scale of political values Source: Pew Research Center “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider” Oct. 5, 2017.
  16. 16. Country viewed as falling short on a range of widely supported democratic values % who say each is very important for the U.S. and describes the country very/somewhat well … Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 13, 2018.
  17. 17. Negative stereotypes about the ‘other side’
  18. 18. Party now far exceeds other social divisions Average divide across 10 political values, by key demographics Source: Pew Research Center “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider” Oct. 5, 2017.
  19. 19. Most have little or no confidence in political wisdom of the American people % saying they have ___ of trust and confidence in the wisdom of American people in making political decisions Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted March 7-14, 2018.
  20. 20. 21
  21. 21. The reckoning for tech companies
  22. 22. Americans view tech and energy companies similarly when it comes to having too much power and influence % of U.S. adults who say the following entities have _____ power and influence in today’s economy
  23. 23. Few trust social media sites to protect personal data
  24. 24. Widespread view that these platforms censor political speech, especially among Republicans
  25. 25. The bottom line: 2
  26. 26. Thank you! Email: Twitter: @lrainie @pewinternet @pewresearch

Editor's Notes

  • 2014 report: look at relationship b/t current pol env’t in Amer & people’s pol news habits
    Shed light on pol polarization: looks at ways people get info abt gov’t & pol in news media, social media & interpersonally

    Overall, those w/ most consistent ideological views on left & right have info streams distinct from indiv w/ more mixed pol views – & very distinct from each other.

    Can be overstated.
    Study also suggests that virtually impossible to live in ideo bubble.
    Most Americans rely on array of outlets, & most hear dissenting political views

    Consis cons (furthest on right):
    tightly clustered around 1 news source, far more than any other ideo group
    About ½ cite Fox News as main political news source
    Asked about 36 news sources: expressed greater distrust than trust of 24

    Consis Libs (furthest on left):
    Not as tightly clustered around 1 source; a greater range of news outlets named as main source – like NPR & NYT
    Express more trust than distrust of 28 of 36 news outlets
  • At least as impt as where turn for news is who they trust (strong ideo diff).
    Chart: levels of trust to distrust for each source (overall & by ideological group)
    Purple: more trusted than distrusted
    Yellow: more distrusted than trusted
    Grey: about equally trusted and distrusted

    As already suggested, libs trust much larger mix of news outlets.
    Of 36, 28 more trusted than distrusted by consis libs.

    Among consis cons, 24 draw more distrust than trust.
    Of 8 outlets more trusted than distrusted by consis cons, all but one more distrusted by consis libs.
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