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Study Reveals That People Trust Social Media Less Than Other Forms Of Communication

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Monday, January 19th, 2015


Over the last few years, social networking has turned into one of the most dominant forms of communications. However, according to a recent report published by Pew Research Center, people still don’t trust the medium especially when compared with other modes of communications. The research group conducted a survey of 607 adults to find out what Americans feel about surveillance, social media sites and online advertising and published its findings in a report entitled “Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era”.

As per the report, 81% of respondents did not feel secure while sharing private information through social media sites. In contrast, 68% of participants felt insecure while sharing data through instant messages, 58% did not feel secure while sending confidential information via text messages, 57% people were not comfortable with sending sensitive information through emails, 46% felt insecure while sharing information through cell phone calls and just 36% did not feel secure while sharing information through landline phone calls. This clearly demonstrates that while there is a lack of trust for all forms of communications, social networking tops the list as far as trust deficit is concerned.

The results of the survey also revealed the general lack of confidence that Americans felt towards having control over their own information. A whopping 91% of people who participated in the survey believed that consumers have lost control over how their information gets collected and used by the companies while 88% believed that it is extremely difficult to remove inaccurate and damaging information from the internet. Among the users of social networking sites, 80% of those polled indicated that they are worried about the misuse of their private data by the advertisers while 70% were concerned about the government accessing their details though social networking websites without their knowledge.

The survey also shows that Americans are sharply polarized as far as the role of government in regulating communications, including the internet, is concerned. While 80% of the respondents believed that people should be more concerned about the government’s surveillance of the internet and phone calls, 64% people wanted the government to do a lot more to regulate online advertisers. In contrast, just 18% believed that people should not be concerned about surveillance, 34% thought that the government should not regulate online advertising while 36% were of the opinion that online surveillance is actually a good thing.

Finally, the survey also revealed the general lack of awareness among Americans as far as the matter of surveillance is concerned. The results show that more than a year after Snowden leaked details about American government’s surveillance programs, just 43% of those surveyed admitted to being “a lot more” aware about the surveillance of phone calls, emails and other forms of communications as a means to combat terrorism, 44% said that they have heard only minute details about the surveillance programs while 5% said that they were not aware of any surveillance program at all.

The survey clearly shows that although social networking is all rage these days, the service providers need to do a lot more in order to win the trust of their users. Also, unless the government stops surveillance and private organizations abandon the habit of using private data of users for profit, people are likely to view all forms of online communication channels with deep suspicion.


January 19, 2015
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