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Two thirds of UK and US search for coronavirus updates – making it the biggest online activity

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More than two thirds (68%), of consumers say they’re searching for coronavirus updates – making it the most popular online activity. Men (73%) are more inclined to search for coronavirus news than women (62%) – but it still remains the top activity for both genders.

Facebook is the most used platform for information about the virus in the UK (30%) and US (47%). Two in five (39%) UK consumers are reading more news stories on social media as a result of the outbreak and men are three times as likely as women to say they’ve started following more journalists on social media (25% vs. 8%).

So finds GlobalWebIndex, a leading supplier of audience insights releases the latest wave of consumer research onto COVID-19 Hub in its survey of 3,944 internet users in the UK and US on changes in media consumption and sport.

People primarily see news as a free resource during the outbreak. It’s only among higher income earners and males that we see parity in the rate of those who are willing to pay for trustworthy news and those who aren’t.

Tom Smith, CEO and Founder at GlobalWebIndex, comments: “In the UK, the rate of those who are resistant to pay for trustworthy news is almost four times higher than the rate of those who are willing to pay for it. This is a reflection of the fact that UK consumers have much stronger confidence in the trustworthiness of the free news resources available to them compared to those in the US, especially with regards to national news services and government websites. Also in the US, consumers trust the World Health Organization website for news about coronavirus a lot more than their own government’s website (61% vs. 46%, respectively), while in the UK, consumers trust their government website the most (62%). The gap here could indicate distrust in the US government at a broader level.”

A third of consumers in both markets want to see more topics unrelated to the coronavirus, showing the importance of bringing in a sense of escapism or normality as the outbreak consumes every aspect of our daily life. While, one in five Millennials are currently searching for vacations, suggesting this generation may be more open to planning travel and may be preparing plans for after the outbreak.

Committed to a life indoors, the majority of US (87%) and UK (80%) consumers say they’re consuming more content – broadcast TV, online videos, and online TV streaming take the top spots overall for increased media consumption. Activities typically relate to finding humorous content, looking for positive stories or non-coronavirus content. This is especially important for younger generations, with 54% of Gen Z looking at memes online and 52% watching funny videos.

Apps are key in connecting people at this time – in the UK, WhatsApp is used more than other apps to connect with friends and family. Although trended data for the last few years has shown social media usage gravitating towards purposeful, content-led activities, during the pandemic we’re also seeing a resurgence of activities which are more “social” in the purest sense. These include keeping in touch with friends and family, sharing opinion, and connecting with neighbours more.

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