A majority of Americans don’t trust Facebook to protect their personal data, a new study from NBC and The Wall Street Journal shows, after the company and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, have spent much of the last year answering questions on a number of data privacy concerns.
The poll, which surveyed 1,000 people in late March, found that 60% of Americans don’t trust Facebook — a much higher figure than the number of Americans that distrust other tech heavyweights, and even the federal government. Only 28% of respondents said they didn’t trust Amazon to handle their information, while 37% said they didn’t trust Google; 35% of respondents said they didn’t trust the U.S. government to handle their info.
The results come after Facebook has weathered multiple privacy scandals since the beginning of 2018. Most noticeably, the company was rocked by the Cambridge Analytica data leak in March 2018, where 87 million users had their information unwittingly accessed by the political data firm years earlier. Zuckerberg testified in front of U.S. Congress last April, saying, “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”
Later in the year, Facebook admitted it gave Spotify, Netflix and other major tech companies access to millions of private user messages. The WSJ/NBC poll was conducted before Facebook was hit by another security issue this week, with the company ineffectively storing hundreds of millions of user passwords, Krebs on Security reported. The company stored up to 600 million passwords in plain text, exposing them to thousands of Facebook employees. Facebook said in a blog post it has found no evidence the passwords were abused internally.
After trading at more than $200 per share last summer, Facebook’s stock was at about $176 per share on Friday morning. Yet, the apparent discomfort Americans have with Facebook hasn’t impacted the company’s user base; Facebook added 2 million users in the U.S. last year, ending the year with 186 million domestic users.
Overall, the polling suggests most Americans aren’t big fans of social media, even if they’re unwilling to quit the major platforms. More than 80% of respondents said social media “wastes our time,” and 57% agreed it “divides us.”