Distrust towards social media influencers : causes and contribution of user’s age, gender and social media use
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The question of whom to trust or distrust has become an increasingly important aspect in social online networks. As a user encounters much user-generated content each day, evaluating trustworthiness has become continuous. However, distrust and especially distrust in online context has not been studied as much as trust. The purpose of this study is to explore what causes distrust towards social media influencers. The concept of distrust is considered in general and in the specific environment of social media. To answer to the research question “What causes distrust towards social media influencers”, a theory-guided content analysis was conducted. The analysis was partly guided by theory and partly by the data. The data consists of 601 responses and was gathered in Finland in April 2019. In the study, it appeared that influencers and their content are expected to be authentic and professional to be considered trustworthy. The most significant reason for distrust towards social media influencers turned out to be commercialism in general. Additionally, commercialism was emphasized when investigating impact of social media users’ social media use, gender and age on how they find the causes of distrust towards influencers. The hypotheses concerning the contribution of age, gender and social media use were confirmed. In addition, distrust turned out to be a very subjective opinion based on one’s experiences and attitude. As men are less active in social media than women and as older people are less active in social media than younger people, men’s and older people’s disposition to distrust social media influencers and disposition to have distrusting feelings in social media turned out to be stronger. In the conclusion, the research findings are evaluated and propositions for further research are given. Even the study gives an insight on concept of distrust in social media, more research concerning the topic is absolutely needed. ...
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