Today it is Facebook’s 15th birthday. The social networking site, founded by Mark Zuckerberg as an online photo book for his classmates at Harvard University, has experienced a sharp growth, but was confronted with severe challenges last year (e.g. Cambridge Analytica scandal). To what extent did the controversy surrounding data leaks damage trust in social media? Sociologists Angelica Maineri (EVS central team) and Tim Reeskens (National Program director of EVS in the Netherlands), from Tilburg University (NL), published a piece on this issue in the Dutch blog Sociale Vraagstukken. The study combines data collected before the controversy on data breach started in the framework of the European Values Study 2017 in the Netherlands, with a survey proposed to the same respondents after the debate burst out.
The authors find that social media
is the least trusted institution among the ones proposed to the respondents in
the framework of the EVS 2017. It is also found that trust in political
institutions spills over to trust in social media, in accordance with the
“trust-nexus” hypothesis. Yet, only 15% of respondents display less trust in social
media after the controversy, while 65% remain table and 20% even show an
increment. So far, theoretical explanations failed to explain this change
patterns. The data do show that respondents with little confidence in politics
have increased confidence in social media. Perhaps it is true that people who
oppose the government and mainstream media turn out to see more opportunities
in social media to go against that government. Only additional research can
unravel this complexity.
EVS data collected in The Netherlands have been used by the Dutch team in response to quite some controversy this week after Kees van der Staaij, the fraction leader of the Reformed Political Party (an orthodox Calvinistic political party), signed the Dutch translation of the so-called Nashville-statement. This declaration is supposedly providing a contemporary Christian stance towards ethical issues like homosexuality, transgenderism and gender roles. The Dutch team checked how progressive the electorates of the various parties are with respect to homosexuality by using the information collected in EVs2017 through the question whether people think homosexuality should never to always be justified. The team found that the Dutch who are most appealed by this Reformed Political Party are quite anti-lgbt, with a scale score close to the scale minimum. What’s more is that the youngest people attracted to this party are more negative towards homosexuality than elderly voters. Tim Reeskens (National Program director of EVS in the Netherlands) published a piece on this issue in the blog Social Vraagstukken. His interpretation of this controversy is, then, that marketing-wise, it serves the party quite well: as the only political party taking strong stance anti-lgbt, the party might attract some voters with similar homophobe opinions. is, then, that marketing-wise, it serves the party quite well: as the only political party taking strong stance anti-lgbt, the party might attract some voters with similar homophobe opinions.
On October 30th Tim Reeskens and the Dutch team presented at Tilburg University the upcoming release of the Dutch EVS 2017. They gave some insights on their project concerning the educational cleavages in social attitudes as well.
The same presentation was also held on November 7th by Tim Reeskens at NIDI (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute).