Meanwhile, media owned by businesses, such as their own websites and social channels, are now trusted as much as media as an institution, the survey stated. Both are trusted by 43 percent of people, however the latter saw a 3-point decline between 2012 and 2017.
The mainstream media also needs to do more to gain trust, according to Edelman, especially when it comes to stories such as BuzzFeed's publication of the unverified dossier that described "contact between Donald Trump aides and Russian operatives," and "sexual acts documented by the Russians," which were branded "fake news" by the President-elect last week who called the news site a "failing pile of garbage".
"I thought it is really proper that the (New York)Times said they put five reporters on it, we had it in June, and we couldn't find anything. I think the other media is going to have to step up and say "no" so that media is not seen as a kind of group that is tied to the elite, that it polices itself,"Edelman said.
When it comes to how people get their information, they are more likely to believe search engines (59 percent) than human editors (41 percent). And facts now matter less, with one in two survey respondents agreeing with the statement: "I would support politicians I trust to make things better for me and my family even if they exaggerated the truth."
This taps into people's propensity to share fake news stories, which saw nearly 2 million Facebook engagements in the three months leading up to the U.S. presidential election, according to BuzzFeed data.
This is a problem for brands, which are making moves to make sure they have more control over where their advertising is placed online.
Media technology company Integral Ad Science works with brands to make sure advertising appears next to appropriate content, and its EMEA marketing director, Victoria Chappell, said ensuring this happens is an "industry-wide priority."
"The recent U.S. election and the proliferation of websites dedicated to generating clickbait traffic or promoting controversial opinions has highlighted the importance of brand safety in digital advertising," she told CNBC.com by email.
Diageo, for example, works with agency partners to whitelist and blacklist certain sites and content, such as those targeting consumers under the legal drinking age, as well as avoiding keywords such as "weapons" or "drugs," its Head of Media Optimization in Europe, Cheryl Wibberley, told CNBC.com by phone.
"We are guardians of brands that have been around for several hundreds of years and that have phenomenal history of which we are very proud to be the current guardians of. For us, trust is paramount, we always need to make sure we are upholding our standards,marketing in a responsible way," she added.