More people trust Google than actual news outlets for information on current events, according to a new report.
A study from public relations firm Edelman says 63% of global survey respondents trust search engines as a source for news and information, while 58% trust traditional media. Online-only media lagged even further behind with only 53% of the public’s trust.
The report, the Edelman 2016 Trust Barometer, measures the public’s trust in institutions like government, business, non-governmental organizations, and the media each year. This year, the report recorded the highest levels of public trust in institutions since the Great Recession, with NGOs and business earning the most goodwill.
53% of the general population trusts businesses, but only 47% and 42% of the public trusts the media and government, respectively. In 2012, only 47% of the public said they trusted businesses, and trust in government was down to 38%.
But those numbers conceal a growing disparity between the “informed public”—defined by Edelman as those with college educations and in the top quarter of their nation’s income—and the rest of the population. While trust in institutions among the educated classes is at a 16-year high, sentiment among the rest of the population lags far behind, according to the report.
In the U.S., where the gap was the largest in the world, the informed public and general population had a difference of 19 points on the Trust Index. That’s linked to growing income inequality in the country and the rest of the world. While 63% of the informed public in the U.S. think they’ll be better off in five years, less than half of the rest of the population agreed. “We are now observing the inequality of trust around the world,” Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, said in a press release. “This brings a number of potential consequences including the rise of populist politicians, the blocking of innovation and the onset of protectionism and nativism.”