ONE in four Australians has either dumped Facebook or reclaimed some of the personal information they share with the social media giant, according to a new study, even though most users found it difficult to do.

But there could be worse news for the multibillion-dollar company as it earned another unwanted title - Australia's "most distrusted media brand" - and the dubious honour of being considered less principled than the banking industry.

Facebook's Australian exodus followed the largest data scandal in its 14-year history, when it emerged shadowy political firm Cambridge Analytica bought the sensitive information of 87 million Facebook users, including 311,000 Australians, and allegedly used it to influence the outcome of the 2016 US election.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has since apologised for the leak.

In reaction to the news, as many as 1.8 million of Australia's 15 million Facebook users deleted their account, research from Pure Profile found, and more than one in 10 changed their Facebook settings to restrict the amount of information they shared with the beleaguered network.

Almost two in 10 Australians said they were still considering whether to delete their Facebook account, and six in 10 said they found the social network's settings difficult to understand.

Pureprofile chief executive Nic Jones the research showed fewer people deleted their profiles than promised to do so during #DeleteFacebook protests following the scandal, but losing so many users and their information would have been "significant enough for Facebook to take notice".

Almost two in 10 Australians say they are still considering whether to delete their Facebook account.
Almost two in 10 Australians say they are still considering whether to delete their Facebook account.

But Mr Jones said social media was still in its infancy and users could have a more extreme reaction next time.

"If you look at the number of people they're dealing with, there's an enormous scope for things to go wrong," he said. "When the next (scandal) happens, we'll see what reaction that has."

Roy Morgan's Media Net Trust Survey, released today, also revealed social media had become the least trustworthy category of media, and Facebook was the worst offender.

Almost half of all Australians did not trust social media, according to the survey of more than 1000 people, and Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said Facebook was the least trusted media brand in Australia.

Social media has become the least trustworthy category of media — and Facebook is the worst offender.
Social media has become the least trustworthy category of media — and Facebook is the worst offender.

"Australians told us that their distrust of social media is being driven by fake news, manipulated truth, false statistics, and fake audience measurement," she said.

"They are feeling the shock of discovering they were foolish to trust the global platforms too much."

Ms Levine said Facebook's "net trust score" showed it was considered "more toxic even than the banking industry," with a rating of -39 compared to -13 for banks.

Young people between 18 and 24 were most likely to mistrust social media, at 68 per cent, the study showed, and their biggest concerns were false news stories and statistics, having their personal information stolen, and claims made without evidence to back them.



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