Seventy percent of respondents want brands to help curb the spread of fake news and 68 percent want brands to protect them from offensive content.
CEO Richard Edelman calls brands the new hope for consumers battered by populism, rapid change and societal discontent.
On his 6 A.M. blog, he wrote: “Brands are an alternative democracy because consumers feel they can vote with their wallet or cellphone and can control their relationship with a brand more easily than dealing with a polarized, paralyzed government.”
The firm’s poll is a Special Edelman Trust Barometer prepared for the Cannes Lions International Festivity of Creativity.
It found a serious lack of confidence in social media throughout the world. “This is a cry from the heart; people are scared,” Edelman blogged. “They are outraged about the violation of their privacy, and uncertain about the truth because of the plague of fake news.
The Special Report shows trust in social media has been specifically damaged by identity theft (71 percent), fake news (69 percent) cyberbullying and hate speech (69 percent).
Edelman believes consumers don’t want to give up on social media because the platforms have become a big part of their lives.
He wrote: “But they want a New Deal with the platforms. Be transparent with me about what you are doing, including clear identification of sponsorship. Give me control over my purchase data and my demographics, with explicit privacy options at each step. Offer me information that I can believe and protect me from noxious content. Give me a public place to talk back to you, and I will then hold you accountable for substantive change.”
People expect brands to have values, and not just a value proposition, according to Edelman. "That’s why consumers are counting on brands to preserve social media and to protect them from exploitation," he wrote. "Brands and social media platforms must treat consumers as an equal partner in solving the problem."