• The following is a preview of the US Digtial Trust Report, available exclusively to Insider Intelligence enterprise clients.
  • In addition to our 2020 Digital Trust Report, Insider Intelligence publishes a wealth of research reports, charts, forecasts, and analysis of trends in digital media and marketing. You can learn more about accessing all of this content here. 

Amid the turbulence of 2020, social media companies face heightened pressures to keep social users safe and defend their platforms against health and political misinformation and disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic and ahead of the US presidential election.

2020 digital trust ranking insider intelligence



Insider Intelligence


In this national climate, facing crisis and division on multiple fronts, we expect that US social media users’ perceptions of social platforms are at higher risk of changing as social user engagement surges around divisive social and political content.

In Insider Intelligence’s 2020 Digital Trust Report, we examine levels of user trust in social platforms by benchmarking nine major social media networks according to how their US users perceive them on five factors of digital trust. 

2020 digital trust impact on ad engagement



Insider Intelligence


We define digital trust as the confidence social users have in a social media platform to protect their information and provide a safe environment for them to create and engage with content. When users feel a platform is prioritizing their interests, we believe they’re more likely to perceive that environment as trustworthy.

Digital trust is important for advertisers on social platforms to consider because US social media users say it impacts how or whether they engage with the ads or sponsored content they see on social platforms.

In fact, a majority of US social users said four out of our five factors were “extremely impactful” or “very impactful” on whether they decide to engage with—watch, click, share, or comment—an ad or sponsored content on a social platform.

For example, 79% of our respondents said whether a platform protects their privacy and data was either “extremely” or “very impactful” on their decision to interact with an ad or sponsored content on a social platform. And 69% said that whether a platform shows them deceptive content would have an extreme or very high level of impact on their ad engagement on a social platform. 

This 113-page report draws on exclusive, primary data from an online survey of how US social media users perceive nine major social media networks on five factors that users said would influence their trust in social platforms:

  • Security (whether users feel confident that a platform protects their data and privacy);
  • Legitimacy (whether users feel they’re likely to see deceptive content on a social platform);
  • Community (whether users feel safe participating or posting on a social platform);
  • Ad Experience (whether users feel a platform shows them annoying ads); and
  • Ad Relevance (whether users feel a platform shows them relevant ads).

This research gives advertisers who spend on social platforms—and likewise, the social media companies whose platforms we rank—a data-driven look into how US social users perceive the social platforms they use on these five measures of digital trust.

Gaining insight into how social users perceive platforms on these measures of trust can help advertisers make more informed decisions about where and how they allocate their media budgets across different platforms, and help social networks improve their platforms or policies to align with the perceptions of their users.

Here are a few key takeaways from the report: 

  • LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Reddit are the most trusted by their US users among nine major social platforms, according to Insider Intelligence’s 2020 Digital Trust Ranking. These three were followed in overall rank by Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Rounding out the nine were Twitter, YouTube, and, in last place, Facebook. 
  • Facebook ranked last overall, as well as across three of our pillars—but Ad Relevance was a relative high point. In general, we expect Facebook’s bottom status on several of our pillars relates to ongoing public hits to its reputation by the news media and legislators in the long wake of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook was by far the worst performer on Legitimacy: 62% of US users at least somewhat agreed the platform is likely to show them deceptive content. However, 55% of US Facebook users at least somewhat agreed that Facebook shows them relevant ads. Facebook’s stronger performance on Ad Relevance is unsurprising, given the platform’s vast scale and first-party data resources for highly effective ad targeting.
  • Across every social media platform, US social users who identified as female tended to feel less safe participating and posting on platforms compared with those who identified as male. In fact, the platform with the widest percentage gap (21 percentage points) between female and male positive perceptions of safety participating appeared on LinkedIn, followed by YouTube and TikTok (15 percentage points, respectively).
  • On nearly every social platform we measured, respondents were more likely to consider ads to be relevant than to be annoying—except for on YouTube and Facebook. For example, on Pinterest, one-third (33%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that ads are relevant, while just 12% said that ads are annoying. But on Facebook, an equal percentage (26%) of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that ads on the platform are relevant as well as that they’re annoying. Meanwhile, on YouTube, a slightly larger percentage of respondents said that ads are annoying (31%) than that they’re relevant (27%). 

 In full, the report:

  • Shows which of five factors of digital trust in social networks matter most to US social users, and to what extent US social users say these factors impact their decision to engage with ads or sponsored content on social platforms.
  • Ranks nine major social media networks based on how their US users perceive them on five measures of trust that affect how users feel when engaging on social media. 
  • Analyzes how perceptions of social platforms change among platforms’ users across different platforms, demographics, gender, and factors of trust.
  • Examines how US social users perceive social platforms on issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and the US presidential election—including the presence and moderation of political advertising on platforms, users’ exposure to coronavirus-related content on platforms, and to what extent users expect platforms to be prepared to prevent political misinformation and manipulation ahead of the election.

The full report is available exclusively to Insider Intelligence enterprise clients. In addition to our 2020 Digital Trust Report, Insider Intelligence publishes a wealth of research reports, charts, forecasts, and analysis of trends in digital media and marketing. You can learn more about accessing all of this content here. 

Insider Intelligence’s 2020 Digital Trust Report includes: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. 

The survey data for this report comes from Insider Intelligence’s US Digital Trust Survey, which was fielded between May 28, 2020 and June 3, 2020. 1,865 US social media users were asked to indicate their perceptions of social platforms on five factors that influence trust in social media platforms. Respondents to the survey were US social media users selected to align with the US population on the criteria of gender, age (18–74), and household income. Respondents only answered our questions for the platforms they said they used over the past 12 months. To learn more about the report from a member of our team, click here

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