Few tech companies figure among the country’s most reputable, per recent research. Here’s one reason why that may be: fully three-quarters of American adults don’t feel that major tech companies do enough to protect the personal data of their users, according to a study [pdf] from the Pew Research Center, and almost two-thirds feel that they fail to anticipate how their products and services will impact society.
But while people feel that tech companies may not anticipate the impact of their products and services, they also believe that the impact has been largely positive. To wit, 63% believe that they’ve had more of a good than bad impact on society, and even more (74%) believe they’ve had more of a good than bad impact on them personally.
However, there is a side note to these findings. Separately, almost 2 in 3 respondents (64%) said that major tech companies’ products and services mostly benefit people who already have advantages in life. Given that result, it’s telling that people with a college degree or higher level of educational attainment were more likely than people with some college or less to feel that major tech companies have had a positive impact on both them personally and on society.
The survey also found some reservations about the extent to which major tech companies can be trusted. While the vast majority (69%) feel that major tech companies are about as ethical as other companies, about three times more said that they’re less ethical (22%) than more ethical (8%) relative to other companies.
Furthermore, only about one-quarter (28%) said they can trust major tech companies to do what is right most of the time (25%) or just about always (3%). Instead, 72% felt that they could be trusted only some of the time (58%) or hardly ever (14%).
As such, 55% of adults feel that tech companies have too much power and influence in today’s economy. (Interestingly, 71% feel that way about advertisers, who might actually be thrilled to be credited with that much influence.) This brings to mind recent research in which people felt that search and social platforms had too much power.
Add it all up and there appears to be a desire for additional regulation: 51% of respondents think that major tech companies should be regulated more than they are now.
The full report is available here [pdf].