Our trust in societal leaders, politicians, and media hits rock bottom. The yearly Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 is alarming and shocking.

As a global speaker, social innovator, futurist, and parent, I’m worried sick. Why?

The world of vanity metrics, likes, and influencers is making younger people lose their minds. We need authentic caring role models. I don’t mean Kim’s Ass or Kanye.

I mean trusted leaders with ethics. Who walk the talk. We need role models with generosity gene and a cause, greater than themselves.

I’m curious how you feel about it?

A Summary Of The Edelman Trust Barometer 2021

The 21st edition of the report is out. Many of us have been waiting for the yearly report and benchmark. Over 33,000 people from 28 countries took part in the research in October and November 2020.


The 2020 edition was a clear warning to governments, businesses, media, and NGO’s. The 2021 report, reveals a ton of data and actionable insights on widespread mistrust.

The annual report is an online survey conducted in 28 countries and with 33,000+ respondents.

I have summarized the report for you here. Very crisp. At the end of the story, you can find the link to the report and more.

The 10 most important findings from the 2021 Trust Barometer?

An ongoing information infarction feeds suspicion.

The government’s confidence bubble is bursting.

Confidence is plummeting in the world’s largest economies.

Fear of COVID-19 hinders returns to the workplace.  Again fear. 

Only one in four people practice good information hygiene. That’s only 25%! 

The activities and claims of social leaders are not trusted.

Businesses will be the only trustworthy body and the only pillar of society considered competent and ethical. Interesting! People. Planet. Profit. I hope. 

The business community is expected to fill the information gap.

People’s employers are consistently highly trusted, while their employer’s media are seen as the most credible news source. Branded events and talk shows?

New expectations about the business world are leading to new demands on chief executive officers. Mad Men vs. Math Men?

Keep these findings in mind please, while reading my story.

Strategic Insights & Contextual Intelligence? Brands Can Distinguish Themselves Now More Than Ever Before

Societal leaders, politicians, media, and NGOs are being hunted by the ethical, economic, and social impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Which has also created massive fear and anxiety among our population.


We have all experienced a frustrating divide between a huge group of people in 2020. Around 80% of our population was terrified.

Many of them are entirely influenced by mainstream media. And solely relying on politicians. Often, this group loses rationality and the ability to think for themselves. Or they have lower education and are easily manipulated.

The other group of the population is around 20%. They are well-informed independent thinkers, highly educated, and often curious. They know about laws and human rights and are skeptical of politicians and the media.

The divide became painfully clear on social media. The groups called each other “Sheep” and “Conspiracy Theorists“.  We also seem to have lost the ability to communicate with respect and ratio.

The painful problem? Both groups have lost loved ones. Or suffer from income loss and severe lockdowns with children at home. We are still in the same boat.

Mainstream media seemed to enjoy this divide. Many were fueling the battle to gain eyeballs and to make more advertising money. One of the reasons? To win back lost market share from the Google-Facebook duopoly.

Could we, the people, stop doing this please? Can we show each other some respect? Respect each other’s opinions and respect ourselves? We, as parents, are also role models for our kids and grandchildren.

The blaming and pointing at sneaky politicians I get. I also get the pressure and stress we all experienced during Corona. Our entire Maslow pyramid and future are under attack. But can we set an example ourselves?

Mistrust was never as high before and it could take one or two generations to be completely restored. That’s my opinion based on historical facts, not a conclusion by the Edelman Barometer!

If you doubt this point of view, look at history’s cultural clashes and wars. Historians are clear about it. Trust takes time to win back. If trust can ever be restored.

And we’ve all had 6-8 years of history lessons at school. Did we pay any attention? Don’t we see the many shady and totalitarian regimes around us?

Did we really think that freedom is for eternity? And for free?

History tells us we must stand up and speak up for it once in a while.

Are Brands & Businesses Becoming The New Trusted Pillars In A Post-Covid Society?

The Post-Pandemic period will offer brands and businesses ways to profile and distinguish themselves. The Trust Barometer is very clear about that.

Especially for brands who dare to go beyond Hollywood purpose marketing bullshit campaigns. That’s my opinion.


Are businesses on the brink of becoming the only trusted institutions for the people? Wow, brand marketers, do you get that message? A global audience perceives brands now as both competent and ethical.

Maybe you should share this story with your CEO and Board of Directors. Or with your Chief Marketing Officer? Many deeply respected Nike for its Kaepernick guts. It even boosted Nike stocks.

But several also said Nike was not authentic. They attacked Nike for its lack of inclusion and diversity at management levels. Where are the female and black managers? How about equal pay?

It’s a tough period for global brand managers and CMOs. Are you ready to make strategic decisions?

Social innovators and philanthropists should have gotten this message much earlier. People like Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk have a fantastic sixth sense for trends in society.

They are both rockstar serial entrepreneurs and philanthropists with generosity gene. They have the ability to envision the future of humanity and society and are always way ahead of the game.

It all starts with imagination and sci-fi. The future is about being imaginative, not about being right.

I’m also happy to see that so many startups are now adding one of the United Nation’s 17 SDGs into their missions.

The entire VC ecosystem needs to step up its game when it comes to social innovation and ROI. Yes dear VCs: People. Planet. Profit.

I also see more and more social enterprises. Like Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup. Can you imagine if we fund and fun 10 more Boyans? Our oceans could be PLASTIC FREE by 2030!

You can see Boyan and other social innovators in this recent TEDx Talk I gave. See the talk Imagination Sparks Social Innovation here:


We Need More Role Models Like Mandela And Malala – Leaders With Generosity Gene And A Cause

Take the tone of voice of Trump for example. On day two, he started insulting European and other political leaders. Women are to be grabbed by the pussy?

A wall to keep the Mexicans out, while it’s robots and AI taking U.S. jobs. Are these kinds of leaders our role models of the 21st century? With only one in four people practicing good information hygiene, are we surprised?


During the pandemic so far, politicians around the globe have lacked to inform their voters with exit scenarios and strategies. Is that the new democracy? Fuck voters?

We have seen distrust towards Klaus Schwab and World Economic Forum about Build Back Better and Great Reset campaigns.

Also, Bill Gates has had severe feedback and criticism in 2020. How much money does his foundation contribute to WHO? How much voting power or influence will he get in return?

We have seen politicians around the globe with shady ethics, morals, and values. Lying to people frequently due to Covid, or lacking any form of transparency or clarity.

I have been warning in my talks around the globe that:

Technology can empower or control humanity.

Yuval Noah Harari has also warned us many times about totalitarian regimes. But it’s the higher educated people that read his pieces in i.e The Financial Times.

The less educated and often very scared people are always the vast majority and politicians and media know that like no other.

Although we have all had 6-8 years of history lessons in school, most people seem to forget what history has taught us. When looking around us, fear seems to overtake our sense of reality and our ratio.

Democracy and freedom are not a given guarantee for decades. Sometimes, we the people, need to stand up. And speak up.

The Misleading Role Of Mainstream Media During The Pandemic

Mainstream media have misinformed the people for almost a year during the pandemic. In too many countries, I have seen censorship and propaganda that broke trust. And we all know, trust is not easy to restore.


Most of us can hardly believe the role of the media during COVID. The media could have restored the people’s trust with data-driven and investigative journalism.

However, mainstream media failed us. Miserably. Their own audience and subscribers. Can you imagine? The media that charge too high CPM prices. Are they really A-list titles? Your editorial staff failed us and the entire economy.

You made our lives a living hell. Full of stress, without any hope. Do we have to guess about our own future?

Do you remember the $31 billion Volkswagen had to pay in fines and claims? The tampered catalytic converters. We still know it today. Our trust was broken. Our gut speaks.

The lawyer who got VW, and many other organizations on their knees was Reiner Fuellmich. With a huge team of lawyers, Fuellmich is preparing a class-action lawsuit.

He will prosecute those responsible for the COVID-19 scandal. That could include CEOs of Mainstream media companies. If Fuellmich smells blood…Run Forest Ruuuuun!

Newspapers and TV networks could face serious damage claims and trials.

How about Big Tech and Media Tech?

The mainstream platform players? Well, LinkedIn and YouTube have removed posts, videos, and even entire channels.

Propaganda, censorships and fake news by Big Tech and Media Tech - Keynote Speaker Igor Beuker

Mainstream media and journalism have been powerful propaganda tools since the Printing Press in 1440.

Journalism and media come with great responsibility. They failed us on too many occasions during this pandemic. They refused to find the truth for too long. They refused to be the voice of the people and did not once ask critical questions to politicians.

My country – The Netherlands – is one of the richest countries in the world. Also, the country with a very “grey” population. Why did our government nearly destroy medical healthcare in the last decade?

Why are wages so low, that every healthcare worker runs the fuck out? Who’s to blame for those decisions? We the people or our political leaders?

Why were we below every benchmark with our number of IC beds? Any other disaster (terror attack, hurricane, war) could have caused the exact same pressure as Covid did?

Why was our government lacking to scale up hospitals and IC beds? These ignorant decisions kept us 6 months longer in lockdowns and curfews.

That decision also took way too many lives. That decision also broke tens of millions of entrepreneurs on our planet.

The role of mainstream media played was huge. Media caused significant collateral damage to the economy, kids, entrepreneurs, and healthcare as a whole.

The media neglected laws, our human rights, and humanity.

Journalism was too often fake news. I have seen pure propaganda and censorship. The media broke our trust and we will not forget or forgive.

Trust is the basis for each relationship. Trust can be broken. Trust is also very difficult to restore.

Do you remember the recovery period the banks needed? People are sensing and intuitive.

And unforgiving. Because the media have let their audiences down.

While these people needed the media more than ever before.

Facebook Again A Scary Propaganda Machine?

Do I need to mention Facebook? The world has hardly recovered from the Cambridge Analytica  – Facebook scandal. Do you remember? How political preferences of 60+ million people were leaked to shady regimes, dictators, and warlords. Do you remember Myanmar?


In a piece in 2018, I wrote why Alexander Nix and Mark Zuckerberg could have blood on their hands and why they could end up in jail. If I had not used my own blog for this publication, any other social platform would have removed it.

Of course, Zuckerberg and Sandberg said SORRY many times. But their ethics were crystal clear to us. Their sorry means nothing at all. We don’t trust your ethics.

Now again, Sandberg and Zuckerberg have revealed their black hearts and souls. Sandberg, who was offered a platform by World Economic Forum in Davos to spread even more lies.

In fact, Sheryl Sandberg and top Facebook execs silenced an enemy of Turkey to prevent losing revenues.

Since the 2018 story, I’m on all of Facebook’s backlists as a global speaker. Do I care? Nope. Because I have a cause. A misfit on a mission. I promised my grandparents – who raised – me to do good. To walk the talk.

I have been arrested in Dubai and Istanbul in the past, for speaking the undisputed truth and being a voice of reason. In this mini-documentary, I explain why:


Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, and I have many Turkish friends. But my arrest was a few months after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered 7 minutes after entering the Saudi consulate. An attempt to cover up the brutal assassination using a body double failed.

Can you imagine how scared I was? Our blocklist is growing because many regimes have declared war on freedom of speech.

In 2019 and 2020, too many journalists, authors, and speakers disappeared or were killed. Facts. Not conspiracy theories.

I also wrote about the Netflix Doc The Social Dilemma. The doom and gloom of big tech, fake news, and media manipulations.

Misusing the power of media, propaganda, and censorship is unethical and damaging to humanity as we know it.

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 – An Epidemic Of Misinformation And Widespread Mistrust

The strategic foresight and opinions above are my own. The Edelman Trust Barometer has been an essential benchmark for many industries for many years now.

After a year of unprecedented disaster and turbulence – the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, the global outcry over systemic racism and political instability.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world.

Adding to this is a failing trust ecosystem unable to confront the rampant infodemic, leaving the four institutions – business, government, NGOs, and media – in an environment of information bankruptcy and a mandate to rebuild trust and chart a new path forward.

Download the 20201 edition of the report (PDF) and see for yourself.

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About the Author

In the spotlights, Igor Beuker is a top marketing innovation keynote speaker and futurist known for his foresight on trends and technologies that impact business, economy, and society. Behind the scenes, a serial entrepreneur with 5 exits and an angel investor in 24 social startups. Board member at next-level media firms, changemaker at Rolling Stone Culture Council, Hollywood sci-fi think tank pioneer, award-winning marketing strategist for Amazon, L’Oréal, Nike, and a seer for Fortune 500s, cities, and countries.

In the spotlights, Igor Beuker is a professional public speaker and futurist known for his foresight on trends and technologies that impact business, economy, and society. Behind the scenes, a social entrepreneur with 5 exits and angel investments in 24 social startups, an award-winning marketing strategist for brands like Amazon, L’Oréal, Nike, and Unilever, and a seer for Fortune 500s, organizations, foundations, and governments.