We Asked The Experts: How Does Disinformation Discredit Social Media As A Legitimate News Source?

In the digital age, social media platforms have become vital sources of news, but the spread of disinformation has cast a shadow over their credibility. Not only that, but it also erodes public trust and distorts reality.

This is a massive problem, as a new report by Reuters Institute found that 30% of people say that social media is the main way they come across news.

Here, we delve deep into the issue of misinformation on social media. Through expert analysis, we discuss the challenges, implications, and potential solutions.

Let’s get into it…


Our Experts

  • Hayley Knight, Co-Founder and Communications Director at BE YELLOW
  • Karine Laudort, Founder at Kay Flawless
  • Chelsea Hopkins, Social Media and PR Manager at Fasthosts
  • Anne Cantelo, Founder at Onyx Media and Communications Ltd
  • Georges Nellany, Public Relations Director at Champion Communications
  • Andy Shaw, External Communications Lead at xDesign
  • Eloise Skinner, Psychotherapist and Founder at The Purpose Workshop
  • James Mawhinney, Founder & CEO at Media.com
  • Richard Bagnall, Global Co-Managing Partner and CEO, of Europe and the Americas at CARMA.
  • Lloyd Williams, Head of Strategy, Socially Powerful


For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.



Hayley Knight, Co-Founder and Communications Director at BE YELLOW


Hayley Knight, Co-Founder and Communications Director at BE YELLOW


“Social media platforms have changed the way we consume news, granting users rapid access to a wide range of information, including international news not typically covered by traditional media. While they offer instantaneous updates, it’s essential to exercise caution, as social media shouldn’t be relied upon as a credible news source.

“News on social media is often sensationalised to generate clicks and engagement, so the responsibility is on the users to delve beyond headlines and comments, exploring reputable news sources to develop an informed, unbiased perspective.

“However, social media can also serve as a positive news outlet. TikTok, for instance, caters to younger audiences by presenting news in digestible, unbiased formats through content creators who function as news anchors. TikTok also sets news agendas, with several news outlets reporting on viral content, trends and first-person experiences discovered directly from the site. And TikTok users are using the platform to provide direct, unedited and honest content straight to the community, cutting out traditional news teams.

“Irrespective of your stance on social media’s role in news reporting, it undeniably transforms how news is consumed, discovered, and shared, and is altering the way stories are crafted and conveyed.”


Karine Laudort, Founder at Kay Flawless



“Disinformation on social media platforms has severely eroded the trust users once had in them. The rampant spread of false information on these platforms has made it increasingly difficult for users to discern between reliable news and fabricated content.

“One of the main reasons why disinformation spreads so rapidly on social media is the way algorithms work, as they are primarily designed to prioritise content that garners high engagement, such as likes, shares, and comments. As a result, false narratives often go viral, while accurate and fact-checked information may take longer to gain traction.

“Moreover, information sharing on social media is so easy that it plays a significant role in disinformation. With just a few clicks, false narratives can now be shared with thousands, if not millions, of people within seconds. This rapid dissemination makes it challenging to fact-check claims in a timely manner, allowing misinformation to take root and spread further.

“Furthermore, the anonymity and lack of accountability on social media platforms enable the creation and amplification of false narratives. Individuals can hide behind fake accounts and pseudonyms, making holding them responsible for their actions difficult. Stricter content verification processes should be implemented to ensure that only reliable and accurate information is allowed on these platforms.

“Algorithms should also be improved to prioritise content from credible sources while actively flagging potentially false or misleading information. Additionally, improved algorithms, media literacy education, and collaboration with fact-checking organisations will be necessary to help restore credibility and encourage critical thinking.”


Chelsea Hopkins, Social Media and PR Manager at Fasthosts



“We’re in a world now where social media is the go-to news source for many, providing constant updates from a variety of sources that leave you forever in the loop. The topic of disinformation being widespread on social media isn’t anything new, however when news stories are serious in nature and evolving second by second, it becomes a worrying problem. Disinformation can spread across a site such as X like wildfire, and even if later proven false, you can guarantee that more people will have seen the initial claim than the follow up posts that disprove it. If this is the case, why would anyone trust any news they see before it’s backed up by someone else?

“Disinformation is one of the major challenges that social media sites and apps really need to tackle, as they not only risk losing users or engagement from those who use them for updates on current events, but also spreading harmful disinformation that could lead to some serious consequences. This is exactly why bodies such as the European Commision have begun to massively crack down on the spread of disinformation on social media, placing the burden on the app owners themselves to clean up their platforms. One of X’s more useful features to be introduced is that of community notes, allowing users to combat disinformation themselves by citing other sources, but it’s the fact that even when disproved the content can stay up on the platform that is the real issue.”


For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.



Anne Cantelo, Founder at Onyx Media and Communications Ltd



“Social media has made people more aware of disinformation. It has opened people’s eyes to how facts can be manipulated to make an argument. However that cynicism has led to people also questioning official news sources. We used to trust our favourite newspaper, now we have so many other news sources we are forced to question what they tell us. We’re much more sophisticated consumers of news.

“That presents a danger and an opportunity. Official news sources will only survive if they recognise and embrace their new USP, which should be their authority, impartiality and credibility over social media. For example, if I watch an event on social media, and official news sources then present a biased account of what happened at that event, I will lose faith in those official sources, I will trust my eyes more than what I read through official sources. I don’t believe that the media understand that yet, or governments. Old style propaganda is failing.”


Georges Nellany, Public Relations Director at Champion Communications



“Disinformation poses a significant threat to the credibility of social media as a legitimate news source, ultimately undermining the foundation of informed democratic societies. We are living in a digital era powered by instantaneous and easily accessible information, and therefore the proliferation of false narratives, deceptive content, and manipulated data erodes public trust and fosters a climate of uncertainty.

“One of the primary ways in which disinformation wreaks havoc is by exploiting the algorithms and echo chambers prevalent in social media. These campaigns effectively polarize public opinion and create a fragmented society devoid of shared facts by targeting users with tailored content. As a result, the social fabric necessary for a functioning democracy begins to unravel, as citizens are no longer able to engage in meaningful dialogue based on accurate information.

“To make matters worse, false information has the potential to quickly go viral on social media, reaching a vast audience before it can be debunked. This not only misinforms the public but also undermines the credibility of legitimate news sources, as false narratives are often presented side by side with accurate reporting. In addition, the anonymity and lack of accountability on social media means that bad actors can easily create false personas and propagate deceptive content, blurring the line between truth and falsehood. Consequently, the public’s ability to discern reliable information from disinformation is undermined, eroding social media’s standing as a trusted news source.”


Andy Shaw, External Communications Lead at xDesign



“Disinformation itself is nothing new. If you look back through the annals of history, disinformation has been a very useful tool in the armoury of those seeking nefarious paths to power, glory and/or fame. Unfortunately, in our own place and time, those looking to spread misinformation have a raft of tools and outlets at their disposal to create and amplify their supposed ‘news’.

“Put simply social media is a victim of its own success. With it, you can reach multiple thousands of people in a matter of seconds. You haven’t got to pass any editorial gatekeepers who will interrogate your source material – whether in written, audio or video format. And, you can imply whatever context you want on the information you’re supplying. Feels liberating, doesn’t it!? That is, until some elements of our societies want to spoil the fun.

“We can’t completely discredit social media as a source of news altogether. If this were the case, then we’d surely have to level the same charges at pockets of the ‘traditional media’ too. Social media can still be a ‘go-to’ for breaking news, we just need to proceed with more caution – particularly in an age where Gen AI can muddy the waters between fact and fiction, and algorithms trap us in an echo chamber of information.

“It’s down to each of us to put a little more time and effort into ensuring we’re following trusted news organisations/sources on the various platforms whilst taking time to scrutinise the stories that appear on our timelines. In essence, we need to work on the human factors just as much as we do on the social platforms themselves when it comes to disinformation.”


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Eloise Skinner, Psychotherapist and Founder at The Purpose Workshop


“The risks of disinformation are huge – because of the instinctive emotional response it can evoke, it often spreads fast and shapes our opinions, perspectives and viewpoints. The power of a social media algorithm can amplify this: because we’re at risk of confirmation bias (believing information to be true if it naturally adheres to our own worldview or previously-held perspectives), we can end up being fed a stream of content that reflects a biased or inaccurate viewpoint, and this can enforce beliefs we may have already formed.

“Psychology has long indicated that misinformation can shape our beliefs, even after specific misstatements have been corrected (link to research here). Social media is even more susceptible to uncorrected misinformation, since we often aren’t exposed to a selection of legitimate, validated news sources (instead, we see a variety of posts from a hugely diverse audience).

“Social media also has the disadvantage (in terms of credibility) of providing a huge volume of often-unchecked information, which can cause us to draw conclusions rapidly and without cross-checking with other forms of media. Ultimately, those using social media as a news source should be aware of the dangers and risks of misinformation, and consistently check in with their own opinions and perspectives to ensure they remain as well-grounded as possible.”


James Mawhinney, Founder & CEO at Media.com


“Social media is effective for reducing the amount of time between an event happening and being reported on. For example, it’s not uncommon during a crisis for internationally renowned news outlets to turn to social media for on-the-ground footage.

“However, that incredibly limited window makes it difficult to interrogate the reliability of content and authenticity its source. Information is posted online, with little-to-no verification of either the user or the events that they’re reporting on.

“That content is then broadcast via a ‘news’ feed driven by engagement numbers, and the algorithm of that social media platform. Truth and accuracy are overtaken by impressions and engagement, which drive the bottom lines of social platforms.”

“In such a chaotic environment, disinformation can be indistinguishable from truth. Users are left trying to evaluate uncorroborated information, from unverified sources, delivered en-masse, and competing with every other snippet of content for space and attention.

“Even worse, such posts can be manipulated by others, whether they’re verified or not. Bad actors with underhanded agendas can pry, misrepresent, and otherwise use it to their advantage. To take an extreme example, inexperienced soldiers in the Russia-Ukraine War have unintentionally given away the location of men or equipment by uploading propaganda videos to social media, leading to drone and artillery strikes that cause the death of young soldiers.

“Ultimately, without the ability to establish either the source or the content as authentic, you can’t depend upon them. An inability to distinguish disinformation from accurate information makes social media inherently unreliable for accurate news.”

Richard Bagnall, Global Co-Managing Partner and CEO, of Europe and the Americas at CARMA.


“The underlying issue lies in social media algorithms maximising user engagement by prioritising content from anonymous profiles and rewarding outrage and polarisation. This preference for sensationalism over accuracy has allowed unverified claims, AI-generated political content, and voice duplication to spread like wildfire. Disinformation can now reach millions overnight, driven by the shock value and the eagerness of individuals to contribute to ongoing conversations.

“The pervasive spread of disinformation means credibility and trust in social media as a legitimate news source is discredited. These platforms have evolved into more than just hubs for entertainment and leisure. They’ve become conduits of vital information during major events, often serving as primary news sources.

“The rapid and expansive dissemination of false information online can exacerbate conflict, instil panic, and foster worry. A survey by Newsworks found that 79% of UK consumers are deeply concerned about the proliferation of fake news. Given the current algorithmic structures of social media platforms, this concern is only likely to intensify.

“A lack of robust technology solutions, dedicated moderation and fact-checking teams further compound the problem. Social media platforms risk becoming catalysts for dangerous and distorted narratives, as they lack the means to verify sources and scrutinise content effectively. Consequently, public trust in social media is plummeting. Platforms must prioritise accuracy, transparency, and responsible content dissemination to ensure they are not merely vectors for sensationalism but
trustworthy pillars of information.”

Lloyd Williams, Head of Strategy, Socially Powerful


Lloyd Williams, Head of Strategy, Socially Powerful

“AI and deep faking is making it easier for disinformation to be created and harder for social networks to combat it.

“According to a 2023 report by Reuters Institute, 41% of 18-24-year-olds in the UK now use social media as their main news source, compared to 18% in 2015. People should have the right to free speech, but social networks have a responsibility to up their efforts in tackling misinformation and this is even more important when an increasing number of people access news this way. Thanks to the EU Digital Services Act, they now also have a legal obligation to do so.

“X (formerly Twitter) has been cited as the platform that has the largest ratio of dis/misinformation around the Middle East conflict. All social networks are being asked to take greater responsibility in removing fake news and protecting users with added disclosure guidelines (around the use of AI for example).

“There are a number of initiatives trying to tackle the spread of disinformation, such as the BBC’s ‘Verify’, a groundbreaking fact checking and disinformation unit which verifies user generated video content.

“It’s clear that reports of disinformation are not stopping people from using social media to get news. So, to ensure it remains a legitimate news source, the public need social networks to provide a platform for credible journalists, media and publishers to bring us legitimate news. In order to do that they need to provide a verification framework that we can 100% understand and trust.”


For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.