Research from media regulator Ofcom has rated the Guardian as the most trusted newspaper in the UK among regular readers.
The regulator’s annual report into the British public’s media consumption also showed that fewer people are using Facebook, Twitter and Google as a source of news as social media suffers from an erosion in trust.
The proportion of people using social media as a news source has dropped from 49% in 2019 to 45% this year.
The report found that the Guardian and Observer ranked as the most trustworthy and accurate among regular readers, followed by the Telegraph and the Times. The print newspaper was rated as trustworthy by 80% of respondents to Ofcom’s survey and accurate by 81%.
The Guardian was also rated the most trustworthy online UK newspaper brand – ranked as such by 73% of regular readers.
According to the report, the Guardian was the second most trustworthy online news source overall, one percentage point behind the BBC. It was regarded as accurate by 74% of regular users – the joint top score alongside the BBC.
More widely, the report found that trust in social media as a source of news has declined from 38% to 35% year on year, lower than any other main news source.
Facebook was seen as the least trustworthy, at 32%, with Twitter the most, at 39%. The belief that news content viewed on social media is impartial has fallen 37% to 34%, and accuracy is down from 39% to 36%.
A knock-on of the increasing wariness of social media has been that consumers are less likely to share or retweet trending news content than they were a year ago.
The decline in trust in social media as a news source appears to have affected sharing habits, with users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter less likely to share or retweet trending news content than they were a year ago.
Despite the general fall in popularity of social media as a news source, Facebook was still named the third most popular news source overall, after the BBC and ITV.
Ofcom said that the report did not explore news consumption during the coronavirus lockdown, during which social media companies have been heavily criticised for failing to police harmful content.
Social media proved to be a hotbed of fake news and disinformation during the coronavirus crisis, responsible for the widespread dissemination of unfounded conspiracy theories such as that 5G mobile technology is linked to spread of the virus.
The dissemination of the theories resulted in telecoms engineers being threatened and attacked and mobile phone masts being set on fire.