Trust in Digital Media

The other day, I have participated in an event about Social Media; opportunities and risks from the perspective of corporations. During the presentation and especially in the following discussions we touched the topic of “trust”. I think this topic is generic for the wider use of electronic media and in my eyes worthwhile to share here.

The trigger of the discussion was the statement, or if you agree the fact, that people trust posts on social networking sites more than posts coming directly from corporations. Looking at this, it is even more astonishing that we trust posts from people we have never met before; these people might be friends of friends, but still, aren’t those people strangers to us?

This provoked some questions for me: why are we inclined to make actions based on strangers’ posts? Is this really based on trust? Is trust important? I don’t have answers to all the questions but during that event, we have shared some interesting thoughts.

One of the attending experts made a statement that I think is great; and it could lead to some answers:

“We trust when we can influence!”

Because we can comment, because we can (micro-) blog, because we can edit wiki pages; therefore we trust these media, we can rely on the the contributions of our peers.

Taking this thought a bit further, I would suggest some mechanics which could explain this behaviour: