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Australians view YouTube as most caring, socially responsible social media platform as social media use rises

According to a survey commissioned by research platform Glow, YouTube has the most positive reputation with Australians, across all major social media platforms. Notably, respondents aged 45 and older distrust all social media platforms much more than those aged 18 to 44.

In Glow’s short term survey that took place from 6 November to 8 November, respondents were asked which social media platforms they perceive to be most caring, most socially responsible, and whether they believe the platform can be trusted to do the right thing. YouTube was a clear leader in all categories, maintaining the most positive reputation across all age groups.

YouTube’s high perceived levels of caring, social responsibility, and trustworthiness to do the right thing may be due in part to its comparatively strict moderation policies. YouTube is well known, sometimes to a controversial degree, for its video take-downs and monetization removal for anything that falls outside of its community guidelines. These guidelines call for a platform free from harassment, hate speech, violence, and sexual content, with a promise for machine- and human-reviewed content.

In addition, YouTube is the only social media platform in the survey that offers an entirely separate child-friendly version of the platform. YouTube Kids is branded as “An App Just For Kids”, offering a kid-safe version of the platform, showing approved content to “protect our youngest users online” (according to YouTube). It appears YouTube’s responsible measures have paid off, creating a positive reputation in the minds of Australians.

When it comes to social media platforms as a whole, it is interesting — or perhaps predictable — to note that younger generations are much more likely to trust social media platforms than those aged 45 and above. 

This trend occurs across all social media platforms in the survey — including, notably, in respondents’ perception of Facebook. The majority (60 percent) of respondents aged 18 to 44 trust Facebook to do what is right, compared to only a third (34 percent) of those who are aged 45 and above.

While Australians over age 45 are less likely to trust these platforms, they tend to be the group currently taking Australia’s Facebook landscape by storm. According to a report by Sprout Social, those who are 65 years and older are the fastest growing group of users on Facebook. It could be said that although this age group is less likely to trust Facebook’s intentions, they may see the platform as a sort of  “necessary evil” in staying connected with family and friends.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a previous study conducted by Glow on 30 October to 2 November indicated Britons were turning to WhatsApp at the same level they were turning to Facebook. 65 percent of UK respondents cited an increased reliance on WhatsApp this year, alongside a 63 percent increase in Facebook activity. Considering WhatsApp is owned by Facebook — BBC reports that Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 — it appears to be a win-win for the social media giant.

Conversely, TikTok, the controversial newbie on the block, consistently fell to the bottom of each category in Glow’s Australian survey — particularly in the area of being trusted to do what is right. Approximately half of Australians do not trust TikTok to do the right thing.

This negative public opinion may be due in part to TikTok’s recent negative press, both globally and Australia-wide. Within Australia, TikTok made news for being under investigation by Australian intelligence agencies, as reported by ABC.  It was indicated that the platform may be harvesting large amounts of user data. Although, in the end, TikTok did not see an official ban in Australia, it appears the reputation caused by this incident may have stuck around.

36 percent of respondents aged 18 to 44 distrust TikTok to do the right thing, compared to an incredible 62 percent of those aged 45 and older — indicating a significant lack of trust in TikTok within this generation.

Hootsuite reported that 93 percent of TikTok users are aged 44 and under. Given that TikTok’s user base is made up of this younger age group, it could be said that those who are more familiar with the platform are more likely to trust it. TikTok’s negative reputation within the 45+ age group could be, at least partially, due to a simple case of unfamiliarity. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians have spent 30 percent more time on social media, as stated by B&T. According to a report by Khoros, much of this social media usage occurs on mobile devices. 96 percent of Facebook users access the website via mobile devices; more than 70 percent of YouTube views are on mobile devices; and Snapchat, a popular social media platform, is mobile only.

With an increasing reliance on mobile devices for entertainment purposes as such, it’s no wonder that Australians are eager to purchase the latest releases. WhistleOut reports that more than half (55 percent) of Australians are interested in buying a new iPhone 12, Apple’s recently released mobile phone iteration.

A recent study by Glow aimed to explore this phenomenon further, seeking insight into what happens to old devices once upgrades are purchased. Glow’s study in collaboration with Mazuma Mobile showed that more than half of Australians keep 1-2 unused phones “just in case”. A further 18 percent hoard as many as 3-5 old phones, keeping them stashed away in storage at home.

According to Mazuma Mobile, a mobile phone recycling company, 60 percent of Australian customers recently using the service have been looking to sell an iPhone 11 — a device that was released just over one year ago. 

“With the rising number of unused phones stashed in drawers, compared with the average value of those devices if kept in good condition, Aussies are sitting on considerable sums of cash,” stated Aid Rawlins, Managing Director of Mazuma Mobile.

Aussies are encouraged by Rawlins to check their drawers, as they may be sitting on a convenient source of Christmas present money, as we come into the holiday season after a tumultuous year. 

Glow is a research technology business with no political affiliations.