Social media has far from peaked
- Despite recent negativity created due to privacy scandals, social media has not yet peaked. Currently, over 3 billion people access at least one social media service on a regular basis. Globally, between 2014 and 2018, average time spent on social media apps increased by almost 60 percent, from 30 minutes a day in 2014 to 47 in 2018
Short life span for social brands
- Out of the 10 most popular social media platforms of 2008, 5 no longer exist and only 2 remain among the 10 most popular in 2018
- Facebook currently holds the crown as the most popular brand. However its user base and time spent on the site are currently slowing down in growth and even decreasing in some countries
Is social media the new smoking?
- Social media has gained a negative stigma. Thirty percent of consumers interviewed in the US and UK refuse to say how much time they spend on social media, and almost 7 out of 10 think their friends do the same
- Four out of ten think heavy social media users are looked down on by others and 70 percent think using social media too much is not healthy
Fake news erodes trust
- Over 50 percent of consumers interviewed in the US and UK acknowledged they have read news on social media they later found to be fake, and almost one in four admitted spreading articles they later found were fake news
- Less than one in five trust information they read on social media
Consumers want the publisher role back
- Almost 70 percent think social media companies should ensure there is no fake content on their platform, and over half think social media should be legally liable for fake news
- Three out of five say social media companies should hire people to review content; and 40 percent want artificial intelligence to do it
Social media is part of social infrastructure
- Although consumers are now sharing less, social media services are too intrinsic to their lives to be abandoned
- About one in five believe they will get more of their news from social media in five years
Social media usage is responsible for over 10 percent of total mobile data traffic and is expected to grow 31 percent annually over the next 6 years*. This report aims to uncover consumers' attitudes towards social media and how social media usage will continue to evolve.
 - Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2018
In September 2018, 2,600 smartphone users from the US and the UK participated in an online survey. The respondents were aged between 16 and 65, and their views expressed in the survey are representative of 100 million advanced smartphone users from those markets.
In addition to the online survey, data from ConsumerLab's analytical platform was used, and supplementary face-to-face interviews were conducted in Brazil, Japan, Sweden, the US and the UK. Data from App Annie has also been used for this report. App Annie's Android data on smartphone data consumption and usage is derived from a large global database of real-world users, combined with additional proprietary data sets.
Eroded consumer trust
Issues don't impact overall usage of social media
By becoming mainstream and reaching a huge amount of internet users, social media has exposed consumers to various issues. Recently, the Cambridge Analytica case went viral, and other problems have included privacy breaches, intrusive ads, internet addiction, phishing and even cyber bullying. Before social media, those issues affected a much smaller share of internet users. A quarter of consumers interviewed in the UK and the US claimed they had experienced such issues on social media, and over one-third personally knew someone who had experienced these. Furthermore, extensive medi coverage has raised awareness, with over 60 percent having read articles about social media issues on news websites and more than 40 percent having seen it on TV.
These issues have negatively impacted consumer trust. Less than 20 percent say they trust social media services with their personal data, and about 60 percent are concerned about how social media services are using their personal information. However, it appears these issues are not reducing usage, at least not on a global level. Even though 30 percent of consumers claimed they had reduced their usage of social media because of one of these issues, over one-third of them said they soon returned to their previous levels.
Fake news travels fast
On top of these issues, the fake news phenomenon arrived, leveraging social media tools, such as share and like buttons, to spread misinformation faster than ever. Over half of consumers interviewed in the US and UK acknowledged they have read news on social media they later found to be fake. Almost one in four admitted spreading articles they later found were fake news. While to a large extent being driven by the hunt for advertising money, fake news poses a major threat to social media's advertising business model, as fewer than 20 percent now trust information found on social media platforms. Social media is included free of charge on some mobile data plans, and for many who use those data plans, social media is their sole source of news and information, and that might harm not only social media's business model, but also damage democracy and society as a whole.
Consumers yearn for the return of the publisher
Social media companies themselves are only now waking up to the threat of fake news. Consumers expect social media services to act, with two-thirds thinking social media companies should ensure there is no fake content on their platforms, and well over half agreeing social media services should be legally liable for fake news and misinformation on their platforms. Consumers want the publisher role back; three out of five say social media services should hire people to review content on their platforms to ensure fake information is not spread. Forty percent think artificial intelligence should do it, while half believe social media services should only host users with verified real names.
About Consumer & IndustryLab
Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab deliver world-class research and insights for innovation and sustainable business development. We explore the future of consumers, industries and a sustainable society in regards to connectivity by using scientific methods to provide unique insights on markets, industries and consumer trends. Our knowledge is gained in global consumer and industry research programs, including collaborations with renowned industry organizations and world-leading universities. Our research programs cover interviews with over 100,000 individuals each year, in more than 40 countries – statistically representing the views of 1.1 billion people.
All reports can be found at: www.ericsson.com/consumerlab