Elon University

The 2017 Survey: The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online (Q6 Anonymous Responses)

Anonymous responses to the fifth of five follow-up questions:
What do you think will happen to trust in information online by 2027?

Technologists, scholars, practitioners, strategic thinkers and others were asked by Elon University and the Pew Research Internet, Science and Technology Project in summer 2017 to share their answer to the following query:

Future of Misinformation LogoWhat is the future of trusted, verified information online? The rise of “fake news” and the proliferation of doctored narratives that are spread by humans and bots online are challenging publishers and platforms. Those trying to stop the spread of false information are working to design technical and human systems that can weed it out and minimize the ways in which bots and other schemes spread lies and misinformation. The question: In the next 10 years, will trusted methods emerge to block false narratives and allow the most accurate information to prevail in the overall information ecosystem? Or will the quality and veracity of information online deteriorate due to the spread of unreliable, sometimes even dangerous, socially-destabilizing ideas?

About 49% of these respondents, said the information environment WILL improve in the next decade.
About 51% of these respondents said the information environment WILL NOT improve in the next decade.

Follow-up Question #5 was:
What do you think will happen to trust in information online by 2027?

Some key themes emerging from all 1,116 respondents’ answers: – People have differing notions of ‘trust,’ ‘facts’ and ‘truth.’ – The rise of misinformation will continue and things will likely worsen. – The next few years are crucial to the future of the information environment. – Some people will be smarter inthe future about finding and relying on trusted sources. – There will be a divide between the savvy and not-so-savvy, and noisy, manipulative attention-grabbers may drown out the voices of veracity. – New and old approaches to improving the information environment will be successful. – Methods adopted to potentially improve things will cut free speech and elevate surveillance, changing the nature of the internet; the actors responsible for enabling change profit from control. – Despite some work to improve things, there won’t be much change.

Written elaborations by anonymous respondents

Misinformation Online Full Survey LinkFollowing are full responses to Follow-Up Question #5 of the six survey questions, made by study participants who chose to take credit when making remarks. Some people chose not to provide a written elaboration. About half of respondents chose to remain anonymous when providing their elaborations to one or more of the survey questions. Respondents were given the opportunity to answer any questions of their choice and to take credit or remain anonymous on a question-by-question basis. Some of these are the longer versions of responses that are contained in shorter form in the survey report. These responses were collected in an opt-in invitation to about 8,000 people.

Their predictions:

A professor of education policy commented, “This process of thinking about how you come to ‘trust’ is very different than ‘trusting’ information Channel X. The notion of trust is so multifaceted. Trust that some information is ‘true,’ for example, is very different than trust that a particular source ‘speaks’ your language. The danger that psychology and economics researchers have shown us is that people like to hear what confirms preexisting biases. So, a form of trust can easily grow from confirmatory sources, but this is not a form of trust we would want to nurture as a country. What is often missing from this discussion so far is not technological fixes, but educational/behavioral fixes. We need to unplug, we need to listen to each other, we need to be cautious about trusting because we are able to weigh evidence and seek out multiple sources that we can weigh against each other.”

An executive consultant based in North America wrote, “Sadly, people will continue to trust information they find online, as they will not have the tools or training to distinguish trust from lies/fiction.”

A professor of information science at a large US state university wrote, “False information may become more popular as more people are getting online and more are using the internet for mundane communications. But some people will adapt and their information literacy will be enhanced.”

An internet pioneer and principal architect in computing science replied, “Overall trust in all online activity will decline markedly over time, due to mass compromise of information systems. This will lead to legislation, holding firms liable for negligent security practices. After that, trust will improve.”

A postdoctoral associate at MIT said, “In the next decade we will see the rise of false (but completely realistic looking) audio and video segments on the internet. Textual misinformation (such as fake news) will be the least of our worries by then.”

An internet pioneer who has worked with the FCC, ITU, GE and other major technology companies commented, “People will rely on trusted sources. The rest will be suspect.”

A researcher based in North America replied, “We are still living in the wild west of online information. No doubt entities will be increasingly sophisticated in their ability to create ‘realistic’ fake information. But at the same time, people will be more aware of the phenomenon and will seek reliable markers for credibility. Technology tools will support this. But also traditional methods, such as information/digital literacy instruction.”

A Ph.D. candidate in informatics commented, “Systems such as internet browsers will have information verification built into them.”

A legal researcher based in Asia/Southeast Asia said, “For me, I have never trusted information online. I will not by 2027 either.”

A researcher based in North America wrote, “It will be the least of our problems given other challenges (e.g., energy, climate change and other geopolitical challenges).”

A member of the Internet Architecture Board said, “More people will be more sophisticated in how they consume information; they will be less likely to trust it blindly (and that’s a good thing). Some people will remain relatively unsophisticated, and thus open to manipulation. The proportion between sophisticated and not will matter, a lot.”

A professor of public policy based on the US East Coast wrote, “I hope people will be appropriately skeptical of everything.”

A research scientist based in North America commented, “There will be more mechanisms for redress.”

An international internet policy expert said, “Trust in 2027 will ultimately depend on the strength of the democratic governance models that exist. If these models remain then there will be trust.”

An internet pioneer and rights activist based in the Asia/Pacific region said, “We might have sunk to the bottom by then and may have started to bounce back to figure out ways to get out of the hole we have dug.”

A professor of law at a major US state university commented, “It will continue to decline, hopefully not irretrievably, until we put serious resources into fixing the problem.”

A North American research scientist, wrote, “It will deteriorate initially, but hopefully by 2027 we will begin to create institutional mechanisms for managing and rebuilding trust.”

A North American research scientist replied, “Being ‘online’ will shift to the point that this question is irrelevant.”

A leading researcher studying the spread of misinformation wrote, “What happens in 2027 will completely depend on what happens in the next five years. Legislators on both sides of the U.S. political spectrum will need to get tough on regulating funding sources, outside influence, and work to increase transparency in marketing and advertising. There will also need to be a joint effort between technology companies, international organizations, and public advocacy organizations to find working solutions for some of the problems that have disrupted civil discourse and more moderate/centrist social and political viewpoints. If this doesn’t happen soon, it’s unlikely to get better in 2027.”

A research scientist based in North America said, “With all the forms of manipulation possible with digital information, the boundary of fake and true will blur, trust will transform with it.”

A longtime researcher and administrator in communications and technology sciences for agencies of the US government said, “There will be no change.”

An assistant professor at a university in the US Midwest wrote, “The best we can hope for is a few trusted websites.”

A technology editor for a major news organization commented, “In 2027 it will be clearer which online sources you can trust.”

A planning information manager for an East Coast city said, “It will deteriorate significantly, with people breaking into even-more-moated constituencies for obtaining information.”

A publisher said, “By 2027, either we will have devolved into a splintered isolated society or we will have collectively moved beyond the problem out of necessity.”

A North American research scientist wrote, “It will be less trust.”

An anonymous survey participant replied, “Trust will improve, on the whole.”

A consultant based in North America said, “Trust will decline overall. But there will be sources that enjoy high degrees of trust among particular audiences. Trust in media, like its production, will likely continue to decentralize.”

An adjunct senior lecturer in computing said, “In 2027 people won’t even trust information from many of their family and friends, let alone online information that disagrees with their own view of the world.”

A distinguished professor emeritus of political science at a US university wrote, “I have no clue. Our divisions are serious and misinformation is making them worse.”

A professor of information systems at a major technological university in Germany commented, “We will gradually get up again by 2027, after falling heavily between 2017 and 2022.”

A principal consultant said, “We will be more selective in what sources we trust. I am hopeful that the untrustworthy sources will lose reader/viewer/listener-ship as people become more sophisticated about what reliable information looks like and who the reliable sources are.”

A professor based in North America wrote, “Trust will be improved.”

A senior principal and author wrote, “It depends on what interventions are made to encourage the public to separate fact from fiction. Right now, people trust whatever reinforces their worldview.”

A North American research scientist commented, “I am not sure.”

A technical writer said, “Trust in information will be nonexistent.”

A professor and researcher based in North America said, “I imagine trust will be siloed, but generally low.”

A media networking consultant said, “Online information will be more resilient to hacking but there will continue to be a growing number of sources of information and not all will be reliable.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “We will see the emergence of subscription e-systems.”

A retired local politician and national consumer representative replied, “Educated people will become more circumspect and select information sources they trust. The majority will believe anything they chance upon.”

An associate professor at a major Canadian university wrote, “We may be at a turning point now, in which the pushback against misinformation will result in a reduction, in which case the trust level will likely stay the same. However, if this issue is not tackled effectively, we will see a reduction in trust of online information and a partial return to more traditional notions of authority, based on known publishers and authors.”

A professor of law at a major California university said, “I would like to think we will have become very good by 2027 at discerning what is false or misleading and what is not. However, humans have always been taken in by frauds, scams and misinformation. Fundamentally, it seems unlikely that we will get much better at discernment on an individual level. Online services may become better at sifting some information out. We may have to come up with a way to better scale our legal system’s protections against false information.”

A professor and author, editor, journalist based in the US wrote, “It will decline further.”

A professor of media and communication based in Europe said, “If no substantial measures are taken to avoid and prevent the pollution of the internet, online information by 2027 will be regarded as sewage.”

A professor at MIT wrote, “I doubt that it will improve much from today’s mistrust.”

A principal technology architect and author replied, “It will decrease – but there will be so few sources that it will not matter. The entire ecosystem will fall under the control of a few players, and ‘we will believe what we are told to believe,’ unless we have some alternate form of information, which will only be local. Hence we will end up in a situation where every piece of local knowledge goes against the larger picture we are being told to believe, but everyone will believe the larger picture because ‘it must be different everywhere else.’”

A professor of media and communications based in Europe wrote, “It will decline among those in power but the mass of the population will continue to believe what they like (in God, the Market, homeopathy or fairies at the bottom of the garden).”

A research scientist replied, “People will only trust information that agrees with that provided by their personal friends.”

A CEO and consultant based in North America said, “Individuals will figure this out for themselves. I know I will.”

A principal network architect for a technology company said, “It will improve, provided the sources of factual information can counter all the false information being generated.”

A professor of media anthropology at a university based in Germany wrote, “Trust in information will improve by 2027.”

A research scientist based in North America wrote, “It will likely decrease, just as trust overall has been decreasing.”

A software engineer based in Europe said, “Given recent experimentation with spoofed speech and videos, people are only going to have to pay much more attention.”

An anonymous respondent from the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University said, “It will drop and then rise again as verification technologies catch on.”

An internet pioneer and longtime leader in ICANN said, “Consumers will be more wary, and trust will not be as automatic as it has been in the past.”

An internet security expert based in Europe said, “The all-pervasive nature of surveillance will lead to an underground shadow IT with nobody as a recognised administrator.”

A professor and researcher of American public affairs at a major university replied, “My guess is that there will be fewer sources of information than there are today (due to consolidation, etc.) and thus renewed pressure to establish and maintain broad-based trust, a la the mid-20th century in the United States. There will always be information sources at the extremes; the question is whether they continue to have influence.”

A professor of law based in North America, replied, “There will be even more distrust in 10 years.”

An ICT for development consultant and retired professor commented, “As it is, an educated person knows how much to trust online; the better education levels, the greater a discerning individual – so one must concentrate on internet awareness and internet education, else trust will go down.”

An author, editor and journalist based in North America replied, “Not much good will happen in the next decade. We’re pretty doomed.”

A media director and longtime journalist said, “People will move on from current trust issues/opportunities/liabilities to new ones. BUT data validation will be much easier to perform.”

An internet pioneer replied, “Knowledgeable people will have semantic Web tools to check the plausibility of information from sources of unknown quality. (If Netscape hadn’t invented JavaScript, we would already have had such tools.) For the rest there will be reliable and unreliable sources online, just as there are offline.”

An associate professor at a university in the US Midwest said, “Barring some major intervention trust in information will continue to decline.”

An anonymous respondent from the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University said, “As in any society where the channels of information become suspect, a portion of the population will look elsewhere for its information. Another portion will simply refuse to process information it receives through public channels, considering all of it to be contaminated by definition. And a remaining portion will continue to believe only in the information it finds which aligns with the opinions they’ve already formed.”

A user-experience and interaction designer said, “If some measures are put in place to deal with misinformation, then trust will increase – however a certain less-sophisticated type of user will always mistrust what they see/hear, preferring their own echo chambers. Perhaps if this was a required topic of education (critical thinking 101) in all schools, that might improve.”

A North American program officer wrote, “It is likely to decrease overall. It depends on the source of the online information.”

A professor of law at a state university replied, “There will be balkanization. Scientific and professional information will likely continue to be of high reliability thanks to professional communities policing it, while information in the public sphere will degenerate in its veracity.”

A researcher based in Europe said, “It will be a chain of trust, and people will trust whomever they want.”

A content manager and curator for a scientific research organization, commented, “It will be about the same.”

A head of systems and researcher working in web science said, “The web will be making improvements on veracity of news information and I hope people will in turn do the same to other forms of media, namely television.”

A leader of internet policy based in South America predicted, “It will be the death of privacy online.”

A lecturer at the University of Tripoli in Libya said, “False information is something we cannot get rid of but it can be reduced. If we raise people’s awareness they can differentiate between false and correct information. Also, people may place more trust in online information because it could be less-biased than TV information, as online information may come from ordinary people.”

A principal network architect for a major edge cloud platform company replied, “There will be more garbage in all likelihood, but its social and cultural currency will decline.”

A technologist specializing in cloud computing wrote, “Information that proves useful will be used to people’s advantage.”

A research scientist said, “It will improve, and people will be more aware, and more critical.”

A senior solutions architect for a global provider of software engineering and IT consulting services wrote, “Hopefully, the public will become more skeptical of online sources, and will gravitate toward those sources that provide more reliable and helpful information. Hopefully, people will learn to check sources online in one or two ways rather than relying on the top search result or most ‘liked’ item.”

An institute director and university professor said, “By 2027, trust in information will be moot. The internet will be the equivalent of the ‘Jerry Springer Show’ broadcast from the top of a nuclear waste dump – thoroughly toxic. People won’t think in terms of trust. They’ll just seek entertainment.”

A professor at a major US state university wrote, “Not sure about the trustworthiness of information, but at least, people will be better trained by 2027.”

An anonymous respondent replied, “All information will require repeated authentication by individuals and organisations and even then we can take it with a pinch of salt, or we can simply live in the hope that false information will stop :).”

A professor at a California-based university replied, “Trust is based on the organization. Like everything else, trust must be earned.”

The dean of a major university’s school of information science commented, “Things will improve if there is a systematic effort to promote information literacy.”

A professor based at a North American university said, “There will be further erosion in trust in information.”

An anonymous respondent based in North America said, “It could be better because technologies not on the radar now will be applied.”

A technology analyst for one of the world’s leading technology networking companies replied, “It will be harder to get to the diverse opinions held among my cohort as we are less active online than other groups.”

An assistant director for a digital media and learning group at a California university said, “We will develop mechanisms that will help us assess whether information is trustworthy. We will also become more sophisticated technologically to be able to tag, share or to verify information.”

A researcher based in North America said, “If nothing changes, people will have less trust in information by 2027, not just online but in all formats.”

A retired professor and research scientist said, “It depends upon what negative events occur and what is done as a result.”

A retired senior IT engineer based in Europe wrote, “Finding information you trust will probably be very time-consuming.”

A North American researcher replied, “Some people will be able to judge the quality of information and some will not. This should be covered in school and it already is in some.”

A political science and policy scholar and professor said, “I don’t see how it gets any better, realistically.”

A professor based in North America wrote, “The level of trust will be very low.”

A policy analyst for the US Department of Defense wrote, “Trust will improve.”

An independent journalist and longtime Washington correspondent for leading news outlets said, “Readers who care about trust will be able to find trusted sources.”

A professor at a major US university replied, “Trust will decline, creating incentives for a balkanized internet, with different parts of it offering differing degrees of encryption and consumer protection.”

A professor at a Washington DC-area university said, “Trust will continue to fall.”

The managing editor of an online fact-checking site replied, “There will be a way to parse out real from false by 2027. People always do adapt. It’s just important to do it quickly.”

A senior research scholar at a top-ranked US law school wrote, “Trust will remain high within filter bubbles of information, trust in adversaries’ bubbles may climb some.”

A post-doctoral fellow at a center for governance and innovation replied, “There will be skepticism! I suspended my Facebook account because of fake news.”

A professor and research scientist based in Europe commented, “Nothing will change. The balance between trust and distrust in information will be approximately the same.”

A senior vice president of communications said, “All trust – in information online, offline, in person, et cetera – all will be eroded.”

An editor at large said, “Not much will change.”

A research scientist from Latin America replied, “Every piece of work will be untrustable unless a chain of signatures and validations can be traced to the origin.”

An IT director wrote, “See the film ‘Idiocracy.’ It is prophetic.”

A librarian based in North America said, “People will get smarter about the internet by then. Most of the older folks who don’t know the difference between clickbait blogs and real newspaper sites will die or be out of power, and people who have grown up in the environment and have digital literacy will be in charge. It’s the responsibility of teachers, librarians, etc., to teach these skills to students NOW so that when they grow up they are information-literate.”

A professor at Harvard Business School said, “2027 will be much the same as today, but with even-more-sophisticated videos and other fakes.”

A consultant said, “People who want information they can trust will fund journalism they can trust. Trust networks and leaderboards rating trust factors will be commonplace, but there will still be those looking to hack the newer systems. As always.”

A professor of rhetoric and communication said, “People will be even more isolated in their silos, reticent to accept any information that does not cohere with their existing beliefs. People may be a bit more savvy about the idea that online, you had best beware (just like now, it took years for people to understand the idea of spam).”

A student researcher based in North America commented, “People will only trust the small range of sources that align with their viewpoints and general trust will decrease dramatically unless we can curtail the spread of false news.”

A futurist/consultant said, “If we don’t engineer greater trust we may see a more balkanized/tribalized society, which could become ungovernable on the scales we are familiar with.”

An MIT student said, “I’m an optimist, a journalist and an engineer. I think things will improve.”

A research professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University wrote, “Most people will have a few sources that they trust, inherently, but they will continue to use other, unverified sources to support their inherent biases.”

An assistant professor of sociology based in the Southeastern US said, “Hopefully, we’ll have a generation or two of people who’ve grown up with the internet and are more savvy about it than others before them. Anecdotally, most of the gross media falsehoods I’ve seen have been shared by a Boomer-age member of my family, the same one who would forward chain emails. That said, I’ve had a few students who question the moon landing or wonder if the Earth is flat, so who knows?”

A professor of digital media based in the US commented, “People will still be questioning it, but be more trustful.”

A CEO for a consulting firm said, “It will improve, but there still will be significant value in the ‘trusted curator’ role that leading publications play today.”

A research psychologist commented, “There will be a wide variety of trustable and not trustable sources.”

A researcher/statistician consultant at a university wrote, “Trust will probably dwindle.”

A vice president for learning technologies emerita said, “If there is a huge global crisis that is recognized for its severity by most, then trust in gathering the information to address the crisis might emerge out of necessity. If not, trust in online information may continue to cluster only in trusted social networks.”

A partner in a services and development company based in Switzerland commented, “We are in a race to provide users with tools for informed trust against a trend pushing them toward a negligent attitude. I expect a move towards informed trust and informed mistrust. There is of course a great worry that negligent trust and negligent mistrust dwarf the informed and diligent attitudes on the scale of society at large. Great upheavals are possible… possibly leading to the proliferation of violent regimes.”

A researcher who works for IBM wrote, “Trust will decrease.”

A journalist who writes about science and technology said, “People will be extremely wary of media, and that there will be extreme balkanization of information sources. Expect the rise of FOX Nation vs. Washington Post eggheads, et cetera.”

An assistant professor based in China commented, “By 2027 it will be better. We will be out of the transitional phase and norms, et cetera, will have settled by then.”

A retired university professor said, “As far as one can see, there will be less trust and more awareness of ways to select information.”

A publisher said, “It will be about the same.”

A mental health clinician wrote, “It will continue to be manhandled.”

A senior fellow at a center focusing on democracy and the rule of law wrote, “Trust in 2027 will be the same as trust in newspapers today: Some people will continue sourcing their information from reliable sources (e.g., BBC, Le Monde, The Guardian). Others will continue sourcing their information from tabloids or from sources they know to be slanted.”

A professor of information technology at a large public research university in the United States said, “As people become more accustomed to receiving information online, they will become more sophisticated in evaluating it.”

A retired educator wrote, “Collective definitions of reality must continue in one way or another for society to exist. Social dissolution is possible. Or enclaves of information hubs.”

A researcher at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology replied, “Since there are many unreliable sources and Internet users become increasingly aware of that, users will start to focus more on more and few authorities who they trust. Depending on the person or group, these may be established authorities (like the mainstream media) or alternative ones.”

An eLearning specialist said, “Either this false information will right itself or all online information will be useless. It seems hard to believe that no information will be available to us via an interconnected online source so it seems likely that – by repeatedly proving to be untrue – the misinformation and the sources that promote it will be proven unworthy of public trust.”

A vice president for stakeholder engagement said, “People will have stopped trusting the internet for general information and remain within their own walled gardens or trust communities.”

A professor at a major US university said, “It will be higher because of public, open systems.”

A principal research scientist based in North America commented, “Trust within internet communities will stay stable. Trust between such communities will continue to erode.”

A principal engineer said, “Not a lot.”

An associate professor of sociology at a liberal arts university replied, “Information and users will be even more siloed in 2027 than they are today. The internet is not an open landscape, but a platform that increasingly consists of walled gardens of liked-minded individuals. It is difficult to imagine how the structure of incentives might be changed for both users and providers in a way that would change this fact in the next decade.”

A journalist wrote, “A likely scenario will be that we will have better tools and systems in place to combat fake news and false information. However, there are several other, less pleasant, scenarios that could take place – e.g., the free and open net that we know today could be history due to the end of net neutrality, massive and invasive surveillance of everything happening online, one or two dominant online players such as Facebook ‘eating the web,’ people abandoning the web for native apps due one of these things (massive surveillance, end of net neutrality), et cetera.”

A researcher based in Europe commented, “2027 is still far off. I have no idea.”

A CEO and advisor on many technology projects wrote, “Trust will be facilitated by technologies, yet those who would subvert it will also increase efforts to defraud. It’s a persistent Sisyphean battle.”

A futurist based in North America said, “Same as it is now and have ever been: it is up to the consumer to decide what they read, believe and cross-reference. Certainly, spreading fake information online is easier than it has been with conventional media and it reaches much larger groups, but it is unlikely that any rules would be adopted and enforced globally – and these are the only rules that could eventually help.”

A senior manager for a major internet infrastructure organization said, “It will take some years to learn to understand the challenges of fake information, and regulations and laws will be lagging behind as technology is addressing the impacts of fake information and how to combat it.”

A research scientist based in Europe wrote, “It will not be much different from today.”

A software engineer commented, “Nothing will change. People will always gravitate to a source they trust.”

A research scientist based in North America commented, “It has already happened. People trust what they want to hear. Governments and authorities have been lying to the public in easily detectable ways (e.g., Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’) for so long only a blind partisan would believe them.”

An editor and publisher commented, “Trust will be fragmented. Under-educated information consumers will maintain prejudices (toward people, products, institutions) until the value of trusted information is established and endorsed, which may take many more years.”

The former director of a global free-press organization wrote, “People will learn which sources they can turn to for reliable information.”

An anonymous researcher based in North America said, “There will be certified sources.”

The co-founder of an online learning organization wrote, “People will continue to get information from brands they trust. People will continue to have different views of what is happening. This is the human condition.”

A professor of communication replied, “I don’t know. There is a confusion in the public’s mind that is understandable about whether to take the time to really evaluate a source.”

An anonymous researcher wrote, “I don’t expect the situation to change that directly in the next 10 years. People will trust in a few sources with which they are familiar/agree and ignore most all of the rest.”

An anonymous activist replied, “Relatively few sources will be widely trusted. Other sources will require skepticism which many people will not apply.”

An associate professor of public policy and economics at a major US university wrote, “Trust will fall but then recover as we develop new infrastructure for shared trust in information.”

A researcher at the University of Oregon commented, “Eventually people will forget about this and trust online information the same way they trust news broadcasts. News broadcasts are also often filled with misinformation or stories that are designed to paint a particular picture, but the majority of people still feel they are ‘balanced’ and ‘neutral’ accounts of events.”

An associate professor at Brown University wrote, “There will be continuing segmentation of news sources, but, hopefully, a more-educated group of consumers who select trustworthy information sources.”

An anonymous respondent based in Asia/Southeast Asia replied, “Trust will not exist.”

An internet pioneer/originator said, “In 2027 there will be an expanded version of what we see today: Competing, conflicting worldviews that are at war with each other in the most fundamental ways.”

An analyst at Stanford University commented, “By 2027 there will be better discrimination by consumers.”

A leading technology analyst, speaker and author replied, “As with everything the internet touches, the distribution will expand. There will always be a core of facts that everyone agrees on, but there will be a much wider range of putative facts that are disputed.”

An author/editor/journalist wrote, “People will trust the sources that align with their way of thinking. The unfortunate thing is that people will lose trust in each other because each subgroup will lose the capacity to believe and understand the other.”

A chair emeritus of a global civil liberties organization said, “For some trust will go up, for some it will go down.”

A vice president for public policy for one of the world’s foremost entertainment and media companies commented, “Without some serious focus on this issue there will be less trust.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Some information online is really excellent and most helpful. Political news is likely to become even more polarized. There must be a concerted effort to find common ground to rebuild trust. Identity politics, intersectionality and the like are extremely divisive, however well-intended they may be.”

An anonymous respondent who works with non-profits and mission-based organizations said, “Most users of online information will narrow their range of trusted sources. Their choices about where to place their trust will be limited to individuals and organizations that share their political views. This is very unfortunate; it means that standards of verification will be even more politicized than they are now.”

A consultant replied, “Increasingly, trust will depend on source, and source will be easier to verify.”

A futurist and CEO said, “International standards and protocols will help, and broad ethical frameworks like the Earth Charter and the UN Principles of Responsible Investing will be recognized and enforced.”

A professor whose research is focused on this topic wrote, “I can envisage three scenarios–trusted networks (where false information is pointed out), or the wild unbounded morass. It may well be that one will have to pay to join such a trusted network because those who can provide trusted information will be paid to do so.”

A lead experience strategist predicted, “There will be multiple offerings for protection of identity services, and, ideally, open-source-based options that major vendors (Google, Amazon, Apple) support, based in blockchain or beyond.”

A project manager based in Europe commented, “Trust will increase for reliable sources.”

An historian and former legislative staff person based in North America wrote, “Trust will get back to normal or better as the media is concerned.”

A librarian replied, “Our views of online information will have more nuance then we have now. In other forms of media there was a wide range of sources and we understood how to approach them. There was not universal trust just because it was in print.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Information will have become ever more central to daily life and therefore trusted.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “It will decrease even more from now.”

A computer information systems researcher said, “I have no idea.”

A futurist/consultant based in Europe predicted, “People will continue to trust those sources they agree with.”

A professor of philoshopy at one of the world’s foremost universities wrote, “I doubt it will dip much from the low level it is at now; but I doubt it will improve much either.”

A professor of humanities said, “People will still basically believe what they read in their chosen source materials.”

A North American research scientist replied, “Users are becoming more educated about the related risks and will be seeking more diverse sources of information to offset the risk of biased information.”

A senior research fellow working for the positive evolution of the information environment said, “Only a small fraction of the population (aged, educated, affluent – i.e., ready to pay for news) will have good, balanced, fair accurate, timely, contextualized, information.”

A small-press publisher based in North America commented, “I hope it improves, if only because people will become more discerning and less gullible.”

A professor and researcher said, “Trust will depend on the identification of source. Technologies such as bitcoin create limited trust on limited information, but general information can only be trusted if its full provenance is proven to be trustworthy.”

A retired public official and internet pioneer replied, “The volume of information online will increase. Advertising will drown in the excess data.”

A principal with a major global consultancy wrote, “I personally trust little of what I read or hear today without independent verification. Nothing will change by 2027.”

An engineer based in North America replied, “It will remain the same as today, but with additional attributes such as trustworthiness.”

A CEO based in Canada replied, “It will bifurcate. There will be several information markets aligned with points of view as well as generic markets.”

The president of a center for media literacy commented, “The environment will still be afflicted with questionable information, but through universal media literacy education and improved access to information about provenance, the environment will improve.”

A senior research fellow based in Europe said, “Trust online will always reflect broader trends in society, which is to say, increasing disintegration and inequality. There will always be critical, information-savvy people, but the policy arena will revolve around the majority of people who actually lack media literacy.”

An associate professor at a major Australian university said, “I hope users will become more information-literate.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “I hope by then it will have been possible to develop a new ‘regime of truth.’”

An economist for one of the top five global technology companies commented, “Trust will be higher than it is now.”

A futurist/consultant replied, “Digital natives will be better equipped to assess different sources, which will lead to greater trust in information.”

A postdoctoral scholar at a major university’s center for science, technology and society predicted, “There will be a further consolidation of power in the online landscape, where relatively few companies control much of the content online. We are already well on the way to this future, with just a few companies accounting for most online traffic. ‘Trust’ is not currently a priority for these companies, and given the market for untrusted but comforting information, I think that the trust environment online will continue to deteriorate.”

A fellow with a futures consultancy wrote, “It is impossible to peer review everything.”

A principal research scientist at a major US university replied, “Trust in online information will have decreased from 2017, though it will stabilize.”

A professor and technologist at the University of Maryland, said, “Trust will become more clearly defined and valued by 2027.”

A researcher of online harassment working for a major internet information platform replied, “It’s extreme in either direction – in one direction, we’re totally fine and in another, we’re totally ******. If I err on the side of optimism, we can create spaces that facilitate media education, that move us away from solely SEO-driven initiatives that serve up content. I think we can make this better, but it would require really putting pressure on social networks to work with us, outside of governmental legislation.”

A professor based at a university in the Western US wrote, “The ways in which information is created, shared and engaged with are changing so rapidly that we’ll likely see a much more involved public by 2027. If the public has reached what we might call a ‘tinkering’ phase – one in which the public is constantly coming up with new ways to use digital and social platforms – then what is to stop the public from developing stronger pathways to trust? If we think about emerging technologies such as VR and experiential spaces (i.e., spaces where audio and visual accompany taste, smell, and even feeling), and if we consider these might be available in realtime very soon, then it’s quite easy to imagine a public that experiences information as it comes into existence. That could, then, give rise to a new level of trust wherein information and the experience of its creation can be simultaneously felt and shared.”

An anonymous respondent who works at a major US university said, “I’m hopeful that it will be better than it is now.”

A director of civic technology said, “It will be commonplace for major social media platforms to employ teams to take on propagandists, just as they employ teams to fight spam. It will be slightly more burdensome to speak online, as automated systems proliferate.”

A postdoctoral scholar based in North America wrote, “It will improve.”

A North American research scientist wrote, “Hopefully it will be improved.”

An experience strategist at one of the top five global technology companies said, “Trust in the mass media is at an all-time low. This trend will continue while trust in independent publishers may increase. I don’t have enough space here to explain my reasoning, but it is based on how individuals react to ‘discovering’ content themselves online.”

A professor of political economy at a US university wrote, “I expect the skill of media interpretation to enter mainstream K-12 instruction the way environmental education has. This will alleviate some of the worst impacts.”

A research director for a federation of organizations in the US commented, “I believe in the power of new technologies; the abilities of people who were born and raised into internet societies and the exponential growth in computing capacities to help solve this problem. See Thomas L Friedman’s ‘Thank You for Being Late.’”

A director of research said, “2027 is so far in the future I can’t say. Probably we’ll all be underwater by then and it won’t matter.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Trust isn’t often related to actual presence of factual content, at least not much. Trust in information will continue to decline and – paradoxically – this decline will occur despite the fact we have gotten better at stopping it.”

A professor based at a UK university wrote, “Trust will have degraded completely by 2027.”

An author and journalist based in North America said, “Trust will erode, as it should.”

A research scientist commented, “Trust will hit a nadir, followed by calls for change.”

A North American politician/lawyer wrote, “Generally, there will be less trust in information online by 2027.”

A vice president for a company based in North America replied, “Trust should be high once eBay-like reputation tracking is implemented for information sources.”

A research scientist wrote, “Trust is being eroded by lies, and the blurring of the boundary between advertising and content. I expect online information to be reduced to entertainment for much of society.”

A futurist/consultant commented, “For many instances, it will decline, sadly.”

An anonymous respondent replied, “Trust will shrink among those who are left behind by the economy and political structures and rebound among those who benefit from and lead the social and political infrastructure.”

A former journalism professor and author of a book on the future of news commented, “It isn’t going to change. People now, and 10 years from now, will trust their network, will self-select their information sources. If there is a proliferation of services to vet the ‘truth’ – that will just further add to the information noise we already have.”

A North American research scientist wrote, “We should all be skeptics of all ‘news’ since much of it more entertainment than information. We don’t need to cynical, however. Today’s problems are yesterday’s problems with speed and greater impact. We need to ask more questions.”

A self-employed consultant said, “Hopefully trust will continue to decay.”

An anonymous respondent said, “There will be an extensive set of intermediaries (either market-based or nationalized) that vet or comment on sites and flows.”

A chief operating officer replied, “Reliable, trusted sources will emerge.”

A chief operating officer of a global nonprofit focused on children’s issues wrote, “There will be verified sources, trusted sources and codes of practice.”

The CEO of a strategy and research firm wrote, “Let’s hope it evolves into a better social and global contract where the voice is owned collectively by the people rather than special interests or rogue government actors.”

A professor emeritus said, “I expect such trust to decline.”

An assistant professor of political science wrote, “Trust in information online will increase by 2027 as more ‘native’ Internet users grow to adulthood.”

A senior staff attorney for a major online civil rights organization said, “Trust in 2027 will depend more upon our communal lives, education, economic justice and opportunity – the kind of society we have or at least publicly aspire to – than any technological innovation that might reduce freedom of online speech.”

The managing partner of a technology consultancy wrote, “The notion of empirical facts based on physical law, observation, research and/or corroboration may be jeopardized as we merge the physical world with virtual world (fueled by pervasive AR/VR/mixed reality) and ‘facts’ can be created with the attributes of authenticity, corroboration and evidence yet false or harmful.”

A lecturer in artificial intelligence at a university based in the UK commented, “A higher percentage of the people will be online then, and trust in them will be at the same level as today.”

A CEO and research director said, “It is too early to tell, but I would guess certain media brands will surface as trusted sources with a variety of transparency mechanisms and tools that ensure their reputation.”

An associate professor at a US university wrote, “I could not imagine the information landscape of 2017 in 2007. However, I suspect by 2027 we’ll see the growth of verification tools both from journalistic agencies and third parties like Google and Facebook.”

An associate professor based at a university in Texas wrote, “Trust will decrease in most instances, but some institutions will have strategies and mechanism to maintain trust.”

A vice president for global engineering said, “People will start relying more on printed material for trusted information.”

A senior researcher at a US-based nonprofit research center replied, “Trust is so low right now that I think it will increase by 2027, especially with the digital native generation beginning to handle that information.”

A research scientist based in Europe wrote, “It depends on which country – US, China, Russia, Europe, Third World. I do not think there is a solely technological solution to the problem although our work on comparing worldwide information sources is fairly close to an acceptable solution.”

A vice president for an online information company said, “People who THINK will be more suspicious of online content in 2027. Others will continue to accept outrageous lies and act upon them.”

A business leader based in Europe wrote, “We’ll see more and more deception, not only fake news as they are now – but also more elaborate schemes – like placing fake information proactively in files that are in danger to be leaked.”

A program manager for the US National Science Foundation wrote, “Trust may not increase, as our culture is already somewhat trusting.”

A professional emergence theorist replied, “Political information will be totally unreliable.”

A professor of journalism at a major US university commented, “Trust will improve.”

A researcher affiliated with a company and with a major US university said, “We are likely to fragment into both largeish and smallish groups. One large group will rely on trusted institutions, but of course different people will trust different institutions. Another large group will continue to try to trust social media, and of course they will choose different people to listen to.”

A professor of design based in Australia replied, “Politicians and industry leaders will have ensured that there are better funding and policy mechanisms to support the generation and dissemination of reliable and accurate information because they will be aware that this is a key concern of citizens/consumers.”

A North American research scientist said, “Online information will be even more fragmented, and trust in online information will be defined by the source of the information for elites and the congruence of the information with existing beliefs for the uninformed.”

An anonymous business leader said, “It will improve once there is legislation.”

A professor of management based at a university in the US West replied, “George Orwell described it perfectly in his novel ‘1984,’ which turned out to be somewhat late but is now technologically within reach.”

An assistant professor at MIT said, “Trust will decline.”

A distinguished professor of information systems replied, “Most people will not have trust in the media. The traditional media that checks its facts will mostly have gone bankrupt.”

An associate professor of political science based in the US Southeast commented, “It will decline if nothing is done, and nothing will be done.”

A retired technology journalist and author said, “The world in 2027 will not be appreciably different than today.”

A global business leader said, “Trust will only increase if we learn more about the person posting the information. I am an optimist. Trust will eventually rise again.”

A North American research scientist wrote, “More Boomers will be gone and since they can’t bother to fact-check anything, we’ll see better quality into getting shared as newer generations are acclimated to fact checking.”

A public-interest lawyer based in North America commented, “Trust levels will continue to get worse.”

A self-employed marketing professional wrote, “Everyone will be a bit skeptical unless they have firsthand, direct knowledge.”

An editor based in North America said, “We will continue to have a divisive and confusing information environment. National organizations such as the New York Times and Washington Post will have the resources to maintain themselves as a credible source, but local and regional publications are going to continue having a hard time making money.”

A senior policy researcher with an American nonprofit global policy think tank said, “Trust will increase.”

A researcher based in North America wrote, “Trust will plateau because the groups answering the question will be thinking of their own sources.”

The dean of one of the top 10 journalism and communications schools in the US replied, “There will always be a balance. Why do we say ‘don’t trust everything you read’ and yet expect that information will be pure and fully accurate? There is financial and political gain from false information, so it will not cease. The focus should be on how to counter it in new forms.”

A research scientist at Oxford University commented, “Society will be more geo-politically fragmented according to what information we believe to be true – whoever’s not in power will have their anger amplified by social media’s infinity loops – any distinction between social and mainstream media will have collapsed.”

A business leader said, “Debate will continue, there will be positive steps but negative developments will receive great attention.”

A longtime technology writer, personality and conference and events creator, commented, “Online information as the source of truth will be diminished. Entertainment, shopping and functional tasks will dominate there. But the internet will remain a place for the curious to sift through for truth. And they’ll have new tools to help.”

An associate professor of urban studies wrote, “I hope it will improve.”

A research scientist based in Europe said, “Once the problem has been identified, it will be resolved for its most visible part. I am very optimistic and I believe the most visible news online, including in the less structured social media, will be as reliable in 2027 as they were in 2007.”

A retired consultant and strategist for US government organizations replied, “Individuals attend to information that supports, at one level, the agreement (even read ‘safety’ for this discussion) their personal needs; at another level trust will depend on the support of opinion cohort.”

A senior research scientist who develops electronic publishing, media and technology for learning, wrote, “It will be more of the same.”

A research scientist for the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT said, “Hopefully, general population will learn to be more skeptical without becoming cynics.”

A professor at New York University wrote, “Trust will decrease.”

An independent systems integrator wrote, “It will increase, be verifiable and more than likely result in tight-knit communities that cooperate and collaborate based on that shared trust.”

A researcher investigating information systems user behavior replied, “There will be little change in general. Bad information will be there, but consumers will learn methods to filter out the obviously low-quality content.”

An anonymous respondent said, “The optimistic view: New structures/institutions will grow within which there is more information trust. The pessimistic view: Alternate self-supporting universes of information will develop with very different views, bases, sets of evidence and conclusions – each opposed to others.”

An assistant professor based in North America replied, “Out of optimism, I choose to believe that people will become better critical thinkers about the media, able to make more qualified decisions about trustworthy news. There’s no way to get rid of biased news, so the only option is digital media literacy.”

A development associate for an internet action group in the South Pacific wrote, “Trust will decline if something isn’t done. But I am not sure how to prevent misinformation.”

A CEO based in the Middle East replied, “Trust will be in total disarray.”

A senior political scientist wrote, “Trust will decline.”

A content producer and entrepreneur said, “People will have trust in online information because reputable companies will be creating content and developers are looking for solutions to the fake news and other problems we are experiencing today.”

A senior researcher and distinguished fellow for a major futures consultancy wrote, “We’ll have a great array of trusted services for high-quality information. But many populations will still lack critical reading and thinking skills to discriminate between truth and fabrication.”

A director for freedom of expression of a major global citizen advocacy organization said, “It depends upon whether governments are going to take the issue seriously and focus on what matters: youth education.”

A professor of economics based in North America said, “As the amount of information increases people will be overwhelmed. Trust will fall.”

A managing partner at a consultancy said, “Trust will be much-improved due to public demand for it and because the consequences of fake news will continue to rise.”

The co-founder of a broadband business forum commented, “Trust will either improve through a mix of technology change and cultural adaptation, or our usage of the Internet will radically alter.”

A research scientist with IBM Research said, “Trust will become more visible in our systems – information will be labeled with a ‘trustworthiness’ rating based on its source.”

An associate professor of communication studies at a Washington DC-based university said, “The future is never certain. In many ways, trust will be higher because information will be more oblique (e.g., the Internet of Things). But if you’re talking about the kind of information that populates the public sphere, I’m not optimistic.”

A town council member in the southeastern US commented, “It will be like today, only much worse.”

A principal architect for AT&T wrote, “Trust in information will grow as long as it has been validated by some verification systems.”

A professor emeritus of history at a California university replied, “Unless there are sites identified and trusted as committed to legitimate information, people will lose trust in the web as a source of information.”

A research scientist based in Moscow said, “Trust will be divided into several types, emotional, data-oriented, fact-oriented, et cetera (as well as the truth).”

A senior global policy analyst for a major online citizen advocacy group said, “Trust will increase.”

A chief technology strategist commented, “We will build mechanisms for establishing information quality. But things may get worse before they get better.”

A research scientist based in North America wrote, “Given the results of the 2016 election and the ready embrace of malinformation that those results imply I can’t hold out much hope. American civil society is facing some dark times.”

An internet pioneer/originator commented, “It will improve as the value of reliable sources becomes clearer.”

A research scientist said, “Trust will increase or stagnate.”

An author and journalist said, “We will cede much of the work of trusted information to AI’s.”

A professor of sociology based in North America said, “People will become increasingly distrustful of all online content, even as they consume it in increasing quantities.”

A data scientist based in Europe who is also affiliated with a program at Harvard University wrote, “Trust will be ranked.”

A senior vice president for government relations said, “It will increase because platforms should and will be required by governments to assume more responsibility for content on their services.”

A chief marketing officer replied, “The rule of information overload will apply across society. People will become disengaged with governance. Big business, political sheep and arrogance will lead the way. Something similar is happening already today. We will see…”

A doctoral candidate and fellow with a major international privacy rights organization said, “Trust in information online in 2027 will look the same as it does today in 2017.”

A professor based in Europe commented, “People will continue to trust information online, but if the current trajectory doesn’t change, that trust might be misplaced.”

A business leader wrote, “It will improve because more informed people will contribute and all of us will be better educated. This issue of fake news is a temporary blip because of politics, but has always been there. For example, governments used to have ministries of information or propaganda that people didn’t believe.”

The CEO of a foundation based in Europe replied, “As the spread of information increases citizens will rely more on fewer sources they trust. That means that general trust will be much lower.”

A research scientist based in Asia/Southeast Asia wrote, “Trust will be no different than today.”

A professor of sociology based in Europe wrote, “If information can be attributed, then trust in sites that have such as system in place will be trusted. Other sites will not be trusted.”

A business leader wrote, “It will be about the same as now.”

An educator said, “Distrust is close to having plateaued.”

A professor of new media education based in Australia, replied, “Trust can only be a struggle for credibility.”

A professor and expert in technology law at a West Coast-based US university said, “It will be at the same place as it is today because truth and falsity are in a constant arms race.”

A futurist/consultant said, “There may be programs that are certified fact checkers that run information through various tests to determine the level of truth.”

The executive director of a futures think tank said, “As we saw with other media – radio, broadcasting, newspapers – there will be more of all kinds of information online, some great, some trash. There will be more and more tools for verifying and authenticating what we see and new tools for creating and spreading false information. It’s a continuous battleground between using the same sets of tools and technologies to spread misinformation and bring greater transparency and integrity to online information.”

A North American research scientist said, “Information will be more trusted.”

An associate professor of business at a major university in Australia wrote, “With the right AI validation tools trust should be stronger.”

A Ph.D. candidate based in Chicago wrote, “It depends on the cultural atmosphere. Distrust in news seems to be a recent phenomenon surfacing no earlier than the past 10 years. Trump redirected a lot of animus towards media, and as a producer of culture has developed widespread distrust of polls and news sources more broadly. I personally believe the future of trust in news will depend on cultural elements and certain primary cultural producers.”

A professor based in New York wrote, “It is possible to pull back and correct from the current state of affairs.”

A research fellow and past chairman of a major US think tank replied, “Trust will increase.”

A longtime leader in the Internet Engineering Task Force commented, “The only hope is that people learn to distinguish between news and garbage. It generally takes a generation to absorb new technologies.”

A research scientist based in North America wrote, “There will be monitored systems and ranked actors.”

A distinguished engineer for a major provider of IT solutions and hardware commented, “Trust will stay the same as it is now.”

A North American research scientist said, “Online information in 2027 will not be significantly different from today, except perhaps for more ‘vetting’ from one’s social network (our peers on social media, not the social media companies themselves).”

A researcher based in North America wrote, “Things will be better by 2027.”

An internet activist/user based in Europe commented, “Trust in information will improve, because people will be more able to figure out for themselves what information to trust.”

A consultant based in North America commented, “I don’t see big changes coming. Perhaps trustworthy repositories will emerge. I trust Wikipedia regarding the wiring of an Ethernet connector. But, I would not trust Wikipedia regarding issues like Sarah Palin’s mental health or Senator Warren’s ethics.”

An academic based in North America replied, “It will be less of a current issue by 2027 due to decline in cultural narcissism, coupled with smarter & more responsible information users.”

An emeritus professor of communication for a US Ivy League university said, “While I am not at all sure that ‘evaluators or assessors of truth’ will become widespread, in their absence, the level of trust in the population as a whole, and within particular segments of the population, will have declined substantially.”

A former software systems architect replied, “It will get worse before it might get better.”

A copyright and free speech artist-advocate wrote, “There will be a split among the populous with some believing some sites and some believing others. Our commonality will continue to decrease as we will live more and more in our own little bubbles.”

A North American futurist/consultant commented, “Trust will remain where it is.”

A consultant based in North America replied, “I expect helpful evolution such that information consumers are better educated against newer forms of propaganda, and technology is refined to weed out much of what ambushed us (re: Brexit and US election) in recent years.”

A consultant based in Africa, commented, “In 2027, trust will be total, as solutions for dealing with fake news will have been found.”

An author and journalist wrote, “There will be less trust, which is a good thing.”

A CEO based in the US responded, “I don’t know, but if current issues go unaddressed, trust of information will be materially weakened.”

An author and journalist based in North America wrote, “Online may not be a distinction. Can third-party information be certified, trust-filtered, authenticated? Could there be systems? Would there be competing certifications?”

A distinguished professor of computer science and engineering said, “While I hope we will develop a more discerning and skeptical set of readers, I fear that we will not. I think trust will increase, if only because a larger percentage of the population will be online natives who get their reliable information online (even if there is also unreliable information there).”

A founder and research scientist commented, “Trust in information will, perhaps, be improved, but improving the overall quality of information doesn’t do anything to address our natural human shortcomings (heuristics, biases and the effects of information overload).”

A policymaker based in North America said, “That is a very long time away in internet years. Hopefully it will be stronger than it is now for a good reason.”

The founder of one of the internet’s longest-running information-sharing platforms commented, “I think trust in information by 2027 be justified, and people will see that.”

A professor and institute director said, “Unless there is legislation to punish the guilty with prison sentences, trust in information will only get worse.”

The executive director for an environmental issues startup commented, “There will be a slight increase in trust, hopefully.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Trust will continue to descend.”

A business leader replied, “Information will remain unreliable and untrustworthy unless from a known, trusted source.”

A project leader for a science institute commented, “Even reputable sources could become victims of mistrust. Readers will need to work harder if they want to find out the truth.”

A professor and researcher based in North America said, “I don’t think the online/offline distinction will continue for another decade. So this question would have to be about information in general. I don’t think we will see confirmation bias or conspiracy theories go away. Trust in information will depend on trust in institutions.”

A professor of public policy at an East Coast university in the US said, “Trust in information will likely change as consumers who are looking for quality information cast a critical eye on bad information.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Trust in information will go (has gone) the way of trust in advertising. People will more and more rely on input from each other. And it’s not just online. Scientific research results appear one week, get discredited the next. There’s incentive to be first, regardless of accuracy. That’s all connected to capitalism, competition and to many social values in the United States.”

A professor of sociology at a major university in the US Midwest commented, “Trust will be segmented. Different segments of society will go to different sources.”

A department leader at a nonprofit organization based in North America, commented, “People already trust information online. By 2027 it will be the same.”

An activist/user wrote, “There will no longer be a single ‘online,’ there will be many official and unofficial ‘onlines.’ with proportionally lesser or more trust attributed to them.”

The executive director of a major global privacy advocacy organization said, “We will stop looking to the internet for solutions and greater understanding.”

A research scientist said, “Trust in online information will decline by 2027, just like Wikipedia today (people don’t trust everything they read on Wikipedia). People will become more savvy about the information they read.”

A graduate researcher at a US university wrote, “There are two ways this could go. We could try to regulate or program our way out of this, which probably won’t work, and you’ll see a massive dip in trust in information. Alternately, we could reinvest in information literacy and teach people how to navigate this new environment on their own, give them their confidence in seeking information back along with the tools to do so well, and let people rebuild trust themselves.”

A strategist for an institute replied, “The trust in 2027 will be only for the elites who can pay, or for the most-educated people.”

A professor at an American research university said, “Trust in information will probably decline, except for true believers who live, e.g., in the conservative echo chamber and buy everything they read.”

A professor emerita and adjunct lecturer at two major US universities commented, “My wish is that consumers will become more media and information savvy and that they will be able to go to sites (like Snopes) to determine the accuracy of the information before acting on it. But I don’t think trust is going to rise – only suspicions that any piece of online information could be false will increase in the coming years.”

A chief technology officer wrote, “Trust in information will be better.”

A research assistant at MIT said, “Overall, trust will improve by 2027, as more information is added to the internet through venues like Wikipedia. Not all information online is news media.”

A journalist based in North America said, “By 2027 people will get used to thinking more critically about what they read.”

The CEO of a major American internet media company based in New York City replied, “Trust in information will be much higher in a decade. The lack of trust is mostly the fault of old media gatekeepers who think they should determine what people see. They created the opening for Trump; the distrust in media pre-dates his rise and enabled it. The millennial generation and digital news outlets will create a new kind of trust in the next decade, based on being humble guides to help people navigate the world, who ‘show their work,’ and are more transparent. The old gatekeepers are in the midst of peak moralizing right now and don’t realize they are part of the problem.”

An owner and principal sage for a technology company based in North America commented, “The answer depends upon what happens to the open internet. If the Internet continues as it currently exists, people’s domains of trust will further balkanize. With smaller groups of individuals focusing their trust on more specialized sources of information.”

An engineering director for Google wrote, “Things will improve and trust will increase.”

A librarian based in North America said, “There will be an improvement. There will be more fact-checking websites and challenges by individuals.”

A vice president of survey operations for a major policy research organization replied, “It will continue to be mixed. Maybe more segmented among biased players focusing on sub-populations.”

A senior international communications advisor commented, “I expect there will no trust, but I would be delighted to be proven wrong.”

A director of new media said, “It will probably no better than at the present.”

A technical evangelist based in Southern California said, “Same level of trust in 2027.”

A doctoral candidate at a university on the West Coast of the US, said, “I hope there will be less blind trust in information sources, and that readers’ trust will have to be earned. I’m hoping for productive skepticism, rather than depressing pessimism.”

A data scientist and blockchain expert based in Europe wrote, “It will enhance and rely on machines and AI and smart contracts on blockchains.”

A sociology Ph.D. wrote, “I’m still cautiously optimistic that people will learn to screen out friends and family members who share low quality information via social media. But this is much more of me wanting to believe, the same way Fox Mulder (of the TV series ‘X Files’) wanted to believe in aliens.”

An historian and writer said, “I imagine a spectrum of sources emerging by 2027 with brands that are trusted by certain portions of the population.”

A retired university professor said, “There’s way too much hacking going on (thanks to the NSA’s irrational belief that only they are smart enough to use their backdoors) for any sensible person to trust online information to be really secure or accurate. Of course this has also been true of history books and encyclopedias. By 2027 climate change will be driving enormous global economic, political, and social upheavals. Trust in online information will not be our major concern. Groups working on clean energy, water resources, drought resistant crops and other survival issues will continue to share information and trust one another. I hope governments of the world will continue to support them.”

A research scientist said, “I don’t see this being any different from how it is today.”

A professor based in North America replied, “Perhaps there will be a renaissance of traditional news sources and the public will come to distrust any and all information placed online – if it’s true, let’s see it in print. However, that remains an outside possibility.”

An author/editor/journalist based in North America wrote, “I don’t have a clue.”

An author/editor/journalist based in Europe commented, “It will improve in parts as people learn to discriminate the fire hose of the internet.”

To return to the survey’s anonymous responses home page, with links to all sets, click here.

If you wish to read the full survey report with analysis, click here.

To read credited survey participants’ responses with no analysis, click here.