Americans Don't Trust Social Media Companies with Personal Data

While a large number of Americans are okay with sharing at least some personal information with businesses in return for better service, that doesn’t include social media companies, who have the distinction of being viewed as more untrustworthy than any other business category. That’s according to a new survey of 2,037 U.S. adults carried out by the Harris Poll for Transera, which specializes in data analytics for customer engagement programs.

Overall 67% of consumers said they would be willing to share some personal information in exchange for better products and services, Harris found, including 35% who would provide demographic information and 34% who would provide contact information including their phone number, address, or email.

Americans are considerably more skeptical about sharing information about their online habits, which many believe are being monitored without their consent: whereas just 16% said they would trade online privacy for a better customer experience, 49% believe businesses that market to them have access to their online habits, including Web history and social media activity.

Here’s the sobering statistic, at least for social media marketers: asked which companies they trusted least to use their personal information in a way that benefits them, 50% of the consumers surveyed said social media companies were the bottom of the barrel in terms of integrity.

That last figure reminds me of a similar result uncovered last year by the Harris Poll’s annual ranking of industries by consumer perceptions of their trustworthiness. Harris found that 6% of Americans said they consider social media companies “generally honest and trustworthy,” ranking lower than telecoms (7%) and the health insurance industry (7%). In fact the only industries that ranked lower in trustworthiness than social media were oil companies (4%) and tobacco companies (3%).

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