Survey: More Americans Trust Google than the U.S. Government with their Personal Information
According to a recent survey from privacy management tool MyLife, Google is perceived to be more trustworthy than the U.S. government. More people claimed they trusted Google with their personal information than they did the U.S. government. Not surprisingly, social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn were viewed with considerable distrust by many of the respondents.
The general public is aware that search engines and social networking sites amass personal information, like names and birth dates, from them when they perform online activities. Information can also be gathered from “myriad everyday actions such as getting driving directions, initiating a Web search or liking a photo of our friend’s new puppy.” This information is normally used by companies for advertising purposes. For instance, when a user searches for vacation spots, it may signal advertisers to send out personalized ads about vacation spots.
In an aim to find out “how people feel about sharing so much private data,” MyLife conducted a survey among 4,000 random Americans, asking: “Do or would you trust [organization_name] with your information?” Only four organizations were included in the survey: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the U.S. government.
None of the four organizations received an overwhelmingly positive response. The vast majority of respondents affirmed their distrust for all these organizations, with Facebook getting the highest negative response (82.9%). The U.S. government followed with 76.8%, while slightly over half of the respondents (52.8%) claimed they don’t trust Google, the least distrusted in the survey. [See Figure 1]
According to MyLife, the results were “surprising” and “rather dismal”. Only 23.2% of respondents said they trusted the government with their information, while 47.2% of respondents said they trusted Google with their personal information.
Fortunately, online privacy can be controlled to some extent by users, as discussed by Christian Neeser in MyLife’s blog:
While websites continue to ask for — or quietly gather — an ever-increasing amount of personal information, it is still possible to exert control over how this information is used (or not used).
In light of this, people should be more prudent when it comes to sharing personal information online. Policies and guidelines must be read and understood thoroughly before agreeing to the provided terms and conditions of a site. Most importantly, matters that should remain utterly private must not be shared online to avoid problems.
What do you think of the survey’s results? Do you trust/distrust these organizations when it comes to handling your personal information? Share your opinions in the Comments below.
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