Socmed rising but users’ trust on global decline

With social media at the centre of users’ lives amidst lockdowns and social distancing measures, new findings shows that global trust on these platforms are on a decline particularly in the areas of data privacy, social impact, and tech firm’s political influence.

A white paper from Blackbox Research and ADNA analysed the perceptions and expectations of over 24,000 social media users across 20 markets with at least 1,000 survey respondents per market.

These include the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom Germany, France, South Africa, India, Russia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

Nearly three in four users (73%) expect their data to be used by social media companies to keep them engaged with websites and digital applications. However, a significant portion of users report that they do not trust companies to handle their data and protect their privacy, with numbers varying from country to country.

In 19 out of 20 countries, the majority of users reports being uncomfortable with personal, behavioural, and attitudinal data being collected by social media platforms. 

Japanese (9% comfort level) and Australian (12%) social media users are the least comfortable across all three categories of data. Meanwhile, users in China (43%), Thailand (45%), and Indonesia (50%) are the most comfortable with all types of data being collected and shared by social media companies. Singaporeans also have a low comfort level at 22%.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of users believe social media can be a force for good, with Filipinos (84%) and Russians (71%) feeling the strongest on this.

However, when asked specifically on its impact on national politics, almost a third (29%) of users think social media can be a negative influence, with Americans (54%) and Brazilians (52%) seeing the most negative impact on political outcomes.

Citizens in Australia (46%), France (39%), Malaysia (35%), Thailand (34%), the United Kingdom (32%), and Indonesia (32%) also express concern, with a sizeable proportion of social media users viewing social media as a negative influence on their respective country’s politics.

Regarding global brand perceptions, American tech companies still dominate, but Chinese tech players are catching up. Across the board, Instagram (78%) and Apple (77%) have the most positive opinions from global consumers.

Meanwhile, Chinese firms like Tencent, Alibaba, and ByteDance are perceived positively by at least half of global respondents (55%, 57%, and 65% respectively). 

“Regulators are no longer leaving social media firms to their self-governance model (but they) will need to tread carefully and avoid over-correcting,” said David Black, CEO of Blackbox Research.

“If they do, they risk not only a backlash from devoted users, but also disenfranchising those for whom social media platforms provide great social mobility opportunities,” said Black.