Survey: Trust Online Is Dwindling

A quarter of respondents to a major new Internet survey report they have stopped buying things online.  Another 30 percent have reduced their Internet use, while 45 percent “worry a lot” about identity theft.  Yes, trust online has dwindled alarmingly.

But the national survey of 1,501 Internet users age 18 and older (conducted for Consumer Reports WebWatch by Princeton Survey Research Associates International) isn’t all bleak, especially for conservatives concerned about mainstream media bias.

For my money, the key paragraph:

What has changed is that more Americans say the Internet has become their main source of news. Television and newspapers still have the lions’ share of the market, but the Internet is growing. The great majority of Americans (61%) get most of their news from television, down a bit from 67 percent in 2002. In contrast, the percentage of adults saying they get most of their news from the Internet has doubled, from five percent in 2002 to 11 percent in the most recent survey.

That doubling happened in 3 years.  Another doubling at that rate (let’s be lazy and assume continuation of trend) gets you to 22 percent by, oh, the 2008 elections…

But before you go pre-gloating Fitzmas style, know that blogs come in for a well-deserved beatdown in the survey:

Fully one-quarter of Internet users (27%) say they have visited a blog in the past several months. Such popularity does not mean that the audience believes what they are reading. Just one in eight Internet users (12%) say they believe that the information on blogs is accurate at least most of the time. A total of 57 percent distrust what blogs report, with 21 percent saying they are never or almost never accurate. Nearly a third of all users (31%) cannot rate the blogs’ accuracy.

Even among those who say they have gone to blogs, only 16 percent say they trust what they read.

Sixteen percent who have gone to blogs…trust blogs?  Phew.  That’s below politicians and probably above only graffiti and urgent appeals from widows of Nigerian oil ministers.

If you do much of anything online, read the whole thing.