Facebook and Google Trust Is Eroding Yet It’s Too Early for Communicators to Abandon Ship

Trust, thy name is not Facebook. Go, ahead, Google it. But is Google a trusted source?

Joking aside, Facebook is not the sole tech brand with a trust deficit. Put Google in that category, based on a new Gallup survey of 1,509 U.S. adults, April 2-8 (Charts A and B).

Look at the first line in each table; users have little trust in Facebook (55%) and Google (57%) not to sell their data or otherwise handle it judiciously. Ditto for invasion of privacy.

In October 2011, when Gallup asked about invasion of privacy re Facebook, it was just 30% of respondents who were very concerned. It’s now 43%.




Congressional Curse

Another way of looking at the data is to see it as an indication of how much brands should avoid doing things resulting in their being called before Congress. As we noted previously, the 5-day period of radio silence from Facebook re Cambridge Analytica might have been one of the things prompting the lawmakers to call Mark Zuckerberg to Washington April 10-11.

The Gallup survey began prior to a lot of coverage of Zuckerberg heading to D.C., though it ended near the time of his first day of testimony (April 10).

Chart C, a SurveyMonkey/Recode poll of nearly 3,000 adults, was taken April 8-9, closer to the time of Zuckerberg’s trip east. The lack of trust in Facebook is clear, yet mistrust of Google, at 5%, barely registers. And the question is slightly different here than it is in the Gallup polls.

The concern for communicators and marketers, of course, is whether or not to keep investing time in mining Facebook’s precious archive of user data and its tremendously strong analytics data.

Gallup’s take on Facebook’s future: “Zuckerberg faces an enormous challenge to assuage…concerns about…personal information being sold and used.”

While the Cambridge Analytica incident emanated from a data leak rather than from Facebook selling data, the issue, Gallup believes, “legitimized the concerns many users have long had about what could be done with their information and online activity.”

Perhaps. Our contention, noted in these pages last week, is while Gallup is correct about users’ concerns, we’re unsure this is enough to deter them from continuing to spend a lot of time on Facebook ( PRN, April 3).

The usage data we presented earlier this month makes our case and Gallup data, in a way, augments our thesis, we believe. Let’s agree it’s a fact Facebook can suck up a lot of your time. Yet 68% of respondents told Gallup they have no concern at all about spending too much time on Facebook. Just 13% say they are very concerned and 27% are somewhat concerned. Hmmm.