95% of internet users don’t trust social media — and that could eventually hit revenues

By Luke Christou

Some 95% of internet users don’t trust social media companies, despite 37% of the world’s population having a social media account, with that figure as high as 77% in places such as the United States.

Malwarebytes’ recently published Data Privacy Report looks into the concerns of internet users on issues such as data privacy and cybersecurity. The survey quizzed more than 4,000 internet users from 66 different countries between January and February this year, breaking them down into Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, Gen Zeds and Centennial age groups.

Respondents showed distrust in social media platforms across the board, despite the likes of Facebook having acted to tackle issues like fake news.

This can likely be attributed to recent cases such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which user data pulled from Facebook was used profile and target voters ahead of political votes, and the alleged influence of Russian actors spread by bots on platforms like Twitter.

Less trust, less data, less revenue

Some 87% of respondents stated that they didn’t feel confident sharing personal data online. This was particularly high in the millennial age group, with 92% stating that they wouldn’t trust social media platforms with their personal data.

Despite that, having grown up in the age of social media, most admit that they still use internet platforms such as Google, Facebook and other social media channels.

It is clear from Facebook’s user count that its many scandals over the past 12 months have had no impact on user numbers. Despite the distrust, social media use continues to climb. The platform hit a new high in the third quarter of 2018, with more than 1.5 billion people checking their accounts daily.

However, while internet users seemingly can’t give up the convenience of connecting with old friends and sharing dog videos that platforms such as Facebook provide, users are becoming more cautious of the information that they share on these platforms.

Gen Xers, for example, rank posting personal information on social media platform high up on their list of online “don’ts”. Likewise, 94% of Baby Boomers choose to disclose as little information as possible when using these sites.

This could prove costly for social media platforms, which rely on advertising revenue. Some 98% of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising. The same goes for Twitter, which makes more than 80% of its revenue from ads.

However, this revenue is reliant on their ability to offer advertisers highly-targeted user data which they can use to push their products and services, so distrust – and the lack of sharing that comes with it – could still prove damaging to social media platforms, even if users stick around.

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