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Most of us… blame social media for our distrust in the internet

A large majority of Canadians blame social media companies for the public’s distrust in the internet, according to a recent survey. 

The survey — conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Centre of International Governance Innovation — looked to gauge the opinions of 25,000 internet users across the world on internet security and trust. The poll found that in Canada, 89 per cent of internet users think social media is the main source of distrust in the internet. 

The survey showed an increasing number of people around the world are concerned about online privacy and security. More than half of respondents worldwide said they were more concerned about their online privacy than they were a year ago and 86 per cent of internet users admitted to falling for fake news at least once. 

“This year’s survey of global attitudes not only underscores the fragility of the internet, but also netizens’ growing discomfort with social media and the power these corporations wield over their daily lives,” said Fen Osler Hampson, a fellow at CIGI and director of its global security and politics program. 

Respondents in Canada and the United Kingdom were the most likely to blame companies such as Twitter and Facebook for a decrease in trust in what they were consuming on the internet. 

Internet users in Canada were also among the most likely to blame the United States on the effect of fake news in their own country. Almost six in 10 blame their neighbours to the south. 

Shamika Sirimanne, a director with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said the survey shows there needs to be more trust if the digital economy can become a viable development tool for developing nations.

“Knowledge is power. It’s also a datapoint,” she said.