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Most people don’t trust the news they get from social media

Reading news on social media
Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images

Most American adults don't get their news from social media, and those who do don't really trust what they're getting.

That's according to new data from Pew Research published Thursday that analyzed the news consumption habits of American adults. The study found that only 38 percent of U.S. adults get news online, and just 18 percent of American adults get news from social media.

Pew also found that the vast majority of people don't trust what they read on social media. Just 4 percent of internet-using U.S. adults trust social media information "a lot" and 30 percent trust it "some." Meanwhile, 32 percent trust it "not at all" and 33 percent trust it "not too much."

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Those numbers include people who don't actually get information on social media (perhaps because they don't find it trustworthy), but trust is hard to come by even among adults who do use social sites for news. Of adults who turn to social media for news, only 7 percent trust that information "a lot."

Trust in the media isn't high anywhere, though. Only 18 percent of respondents trust national news organizations "a lot" and just 22 percent trust local news organizations. Still, for both of those groups, around 80 percent trust it at least "some."

Is this lack of trust in social media a problem for media companies? It's probably not good! Virtually every media publisher in America is distributing its news via social media. And some new media companies like BuzzFeed and Bleacher Report all but forgo homepages and rely on the likes of Facebook and Twitter as key traffic drivers. A perception that social media isn't a great place to get reliable information isn't good for anyone in the media world.

— CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.