News & Politics

National Poll: Facebook Least Trustworthy Tech Company

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

In a just-released national poll, Facebook was found to be the least trustworthy among all of the major tech companies when it comes to safeguarding its customers’ data. The poll was sponsored by Fortune and conducted by the Harris Poll organization. Their survey focused on the major tech companies and their CEOs.

The poll found that just 22 percent of Americans trust Facebook with their personal data. That compared to a trust factor of 39 percent for Apple, 41 percent for Google, and 49 percent for Amazon. That more people distrust than trust each of them is bad news for all of these companies.

“Facebook is in the bottom in terms of trust in housing your personal data,” said Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema. “Facebook’s crises continue rolling in the news cycle.” Previous polling has also shown Facebook trailing among all companies that consumers do business with.

Among the series of questions, Facebook scored dead last in all, including the trustworthiness of their leadership and their ethical practices.

The poor showing also is an indication of the failure of its management, including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, to provide a believable defense and to take appropriate actions for past behaviors.

After Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress, analysts thought he survived the grilling intact. But, based on these new results, that was an optimistic assessment, because his reputation continues to fall and users continue to leave the social platform. Simultaneously, daily users in North America have plateaued at 185 million and teenage use has actually gone down, a sharp turn from the fast growth they experienced in prior years.

The poor findings for Facebook are the results of a steady accumulation of ethical lapses that included allowing personal data to reach Cambridge Analytica. The company misused the information, which allowed the personal data of 30 million users to be hacked. But other factors likely affected the results, including Facebook’s inability to rein in all of the bots and fake accounts and prevent new ones from registering. Nearly every day Facebook has had to apologize for either failing to remove bogus accounts or failing to catch posts that violate their term of service. In spite of their high profits and a large number of engineers, they just can’t seem to fix things. That may be an indication that their model just isn’t fixable. The tools used to make it easy for advertisers to target potential customers with specific likes are also being used, just as they’re designed to be, by organizations to target bigots, anti-Semites, and others damaging to our democracy.

The poll surveyed 2000 U.S. adults in October and found a number of other distressing results for Facebook.

The company’s public perception dropped significantly this year after Zuckerberg’s testimony: 48 percent viewed the company more negatively and 17 percent more positively compared to the previous six months.

None of the other companies in the survey had an increase in their net negatives. Microsoft had a 28 percent more positive view/7 percent more negative, and Amazon’s was 39 percent/10 percent.

Facebook also took “honors” for its last-place showing among tech company CEOs. Just 59 percent were “at least somewhat confident” in Zuckerberg’s leadership and use of data and privacy information. That compares to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (77 percent), Apple’s Tim Cook (72 percent), Google’s Sundar Pichai (68 percent), and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella (71 percent). Basically, Zuckerberg gets a D or F, while the others get a C.

The results of the survey will likely encourage Congress to create new privacy laws, similar to what recently passed in California.