Most Facebook Users Don't Trust The Site With Their Data

Users distrusted the social media giant even before its latest controversies.

Most Facebook users don’t trust the site with their data, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Just 31 percent of Facebook users say they trust the company at least somewhat with their personal data, with 66 percent saying they don’t trust it much or at all, and the remainder unsure.

Facebook has faced a series of high-profile controversies throughout 2018, culminating with a recent New York Times investigation revealing that the site had given other tech companies significant access to users’ personal data without those individuals’ knowledge or consent.

Eighty-one percent of those polled say they’ve heard at least a little about that story, although barely more than one-third were following it closely. Among those who’d heard anything about the latest news, only 15 percent were even somewhat satisfied with Facebook’s response, with 71 percent saying they were not very or not at all satisfied.

Facebook users’ skepticism about the site, however, isn’t exactly a new development. The share of Facebook users who have at least some trust in the site is the same as in an April poll taken amid the controversy over Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data, and within a few points of the 35 percent who reported trusting Facebook as far back as spring of 2016.

(One potential caveat: Everyone taking the YouGov poll opted in to answering questions about themselves online, which could plausibly be self-selecting for certain attitudes toward internet data and privacy.)

A sizable share of the public self-reports that they’ve cut back on their Facebook usage: Thirteen percent of Americans say they formerly used Facebook but stopped, and 38 percent of Facebook users report that they’re spending less time on the site than they did a year ago.

Among the group of people who say they’ve cut back on their Facebook usage, half say they did so at least partially because they don’t trust the social media giant. (Respondents could select multiple reasons for cutting back on Facebook.) Thirty-six percent say the site includes too much advertising, 31 percent that they don’t have anything they want to post or that they don’t find Facebook’s content to be interesting, and 23 percent that they don’t have enough time. Fewer say they’re using the site less because their friends have abandoned it or because it makes them feel bad about themselves.

Notably, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, appears to have avoided incurring the same level of backlash. Instagram’s favorability rating among the general public is a net +6, compared to Facebook’s negative 2. Half of current Instagram users say they trust the site at least somewhat with their data, with 46 percent saying they don’t trust it much or at all.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 21-23 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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