Social media outlets including blogs, Twitter and Facebook, have had an upsurge in credibility over the past year, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2012.
Websites that were generally perceived as untrustworthy in previous years are now seen as respected sources of information, showing a 75% rise in trust over the past year around the globe.
However, traditional media sources, such as newspapers and news sites, are still more trusted than social media overall. Even in a year which saw the explosion of the phone hacking scandal, trust in news sources soared by 25% in the UK.
The survey found it was the number of times that something is seen repeated on Twitter, Facebook or blogs that determines its credibility in people's minds.
The majority of respondents said that if they read the same thing repeated about a company three to five times on a social media site, they believe it’s true.
The Edelman Trust surveyed people aged 25-64 in 25 countries and found 63% of people had to hear something several times before they accepted it as a fact.
The PR company's barometer was compiled through 20 minute online interviews of 25,000 people in two age groups (25-34 and 35-64).
Japan and Russia are the most distrusting countries, while China and the United Arab Emirates rank amongst the most trusting. The UK is a more ‘distrusting’ country that the US but not as distrusting as Spain or Germany.
The Edelman Barometer shows government has suffered a severe dip in trust over the past year. "Trust in the government is in the toilet," Ed Williams, Edelman's UK chief executive, said at an event in London. "The public simply don't believe in politicians to tell the truth, and the vast majority think the country is on the wrong track."
Trust in businesses also dipped: "it's the Occupy Wall Street theme of the haves and have nots. CEOs are perceived as making too much money, relative to the average working person," Edelman said. However British trust in businesses is more than other European countries, especially those that have been affected by the eurozone crisis.