Most Adults Agree Some Online Cos. Too Powerful

May 17, 2011

harris-online-power-may-2011.JPGWhen American adults were asked in an April 2011 Adweek/Harris Poll if they agree or disagree that some online companies, such as Google or Facebook, control too much of our personal information and know too much about our browsing habits, three quarters said that they agreed (76%), with 36% strongly agreeing. Only one in six disagreed that these companies know and control too much (16%), and even fewer were not sure (8%).

Oldest Adults Have Strongest Feelings

There is little difference in opinion by age; between 74% and 79% of all age groups agree that these companies have too much information and control. Yet, older adults, aged 55 and older, are most likely to strongly agree (41%) and the youngest adults, aged 18-34, are least likely to feel this way (31%).

Women Agree More But Men Have Stronger Feelings

While majorities of both men and women agree that these companies control too much and have too much information about us, women are about 7% more likely to say this than men are (79% compared to 74%). Interestingly, 38% of men strongly agree, while only 35% of women do.

Affluent Agree More

More affluent Americans are more likely to feel this way than are Americans who earn less. Eighty percent of those who earn $75,000 or more per year agree, compared to 70% of those who earn between $35,000 and $49,900 and 73% of those who earn less than $35,000 per year.

Most Oppose Intervention

harris-govt-reg-may-2011.JPGYet, despite a large majority of Americans agreeing that these companies know and control too much, Americans are more likely to say they oppose government intervention to regulate large online companies like Google or Facebook (46%) rather than support it (36%). Almost one in five are not at all sure (18%).

Men, Gen X, College Grads Most Support Intervention

Men (38%) are about 10% more likely than women (34%) to support government intervention. Americans age 45-54 are least likely to support intervention (32%), while those age 35-44 are most likely to support it (39%).

In addition, those with a college degree or more are close to 20% more likely to support intervention (40%) than those with a high school degree or less (34%).

Gallup: Americans See Many Entities as Too Strong

Lobbyists, major corporations, banks, and the federal government all have too much power, according to a majority of respondents to a recent Gallup poll. By contrast, the public largely believes state and local governments, the legal system, organized religion, and the military each have the right amount of power or too little power.

Labor unions elicited mixed responses, with the plurality saying they have too much power, but a combined slim majority saying their power is about right or lacking.

About the Data: This Adweek/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 25 and 27, 2011 among 2,124 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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