In a study that seems specifically designed to make social media marketers lose sleep online research company ThreatMetrix suggest that more than 50% of consumers distrust Facebook Stores stating concerns online fraud as a reason. Even more worryingly, a further 23% report that they are unsure about social media shopping on Facebook.

The study, which ThreatMetrix undertook with the assistance of the Ponemon Institute reveals that of those questioned 51% said that Google is more effective than Facebook at keeping them safe from online criminals, and only 20% have purchased something directly within Facebook.

The issue is an important one and it follows up on the importance of appearance and set up in making eCommerce successful which is rapidly emerging as a crucial factor in online success. Namely, the fact that what sways consumers to make an online purchase is a sense of trust which ios hard to define but which everyone knows when it’s not there.

Facebook may have managed to attract over 10% of the world’s population but it also presents an unruly playground where raunchy pics, foul language and drunkenness appear to be the norm rather than the exception. This may make it ok in terms of an online place to hangout but when it comes to a place to do business in, the picture, as MySpace Founder Tom Anderson recently commented,is far from endearing.

Inevitably this must rub off on business which suddenly, in an online equivalent of the upscale store placed in a tough neighbourhood, are finding it difficult to attract customers. The game is not completely lost of course. Social media marketers advising their clients will now have to take into account the adversarial online environment and work both harder and smarter at attracting customers, appeasing their online fraud concerns and turning them into regular purchasers.

The real question, of course, is whether the additional expenditure in time and effort is justified when just round the corner Google Plus, already a trusted brand and a much more tightly controlled space, with a culture that’s decidedly more reserved, is ready to offer a more rewarding experience.

The year is barely 48 hours old and social media is already making waves. The issues of trust, authority and professionalism, never far from the surface in eCommerce are now becoming critical factors which, in a tough economy, can make or break brand reputations and, more importantly, affect bottom lines.

It remains to be seen what Facebook’s response will be in light of the findings but as the world’s largest social network struggles to implement its new Timeline interface the feeling must be that unless they also succeed in cleaning up their social network space, a lot of the business they hope to attract will simply not want to be there.