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Mark Zuckerberg beats Tim Cook as tech’s most popular CEO despite distrust for Facebook

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has the highest approval rating of CEOs from the biggest tech companies in the United States, according to polling company Morning Consult, beating out Satya Nadella, Elon Musk, and Larry Page. But despite this positive opinion for its boss, Zuckerberg's Facebook is among the country's least trusted of the major tech companies surveyed, far behind Amazon, Google, and Apple in the matter of information and data security.

The study, conducted on February 24th and 25th, ​polled American opinions regarding the Apple vs. FBI debate over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone. Apple's Tim Cook, who's battling the FBI's directive in the name of privacy and public security, was ranked as the second most favored CEO by the 1,935 registered voters polled, with 39 percent giving a favorable response in comparison to Zuckerberg's 48 percent. Behind Cook came Amazon head Jeff Bezos, on 38 percent favorability, and Microsoft's Satya Nadella with 29 percent.

Zuckerberg was also the most widely known of all the CEOs included in the poll — only 31 percent of voters polled replying that they had no opinion, or had never heard of the Facebook head. Zuckerberg has become a tech celebrity on a greater scale than most, prompting a reaction like a pop star would at Samsung's Mobile World Congress press conference this week. Of course, the Oscar-winning movie about his life helps his public recognition.


Tim Cook, too, has been upping his visibility in recent months as Apple defies the FBI's orders. 44 percent of voters said they didn't have an opinion, or didn't know anything about Steve Jobs' successor. On the other hand, when asked about Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Travis Kalanick, creator of Uber, 65 percent of responders said they couldn't comment on their favorability. Kalanick was a particularly unpopular figure: 19 percent had a negative opinion of the Uber boss, compared to only 16 percent who gave their approval.

That distrust for Kalanick appeared to carry over to his company. When asked whether they trusted Uber with keeping their personal information secure, only 18 percent said they were confident in the ridesharing company's capabilities. That figure is cast into stark relief when compared to the 36 percent that said they trusted Target with their data, and the 37 percent that trusted Home Depot. Both companies were hacked over the past few years, exposing millions of customer credit cards in the process.


The replies indicate that large-scale data breaches might not actually affect popular opinions on data security, but it was clear that a few companies were held in particularly high regard. More than 50 percent of voters said they were confident in Google, Apple, and Amazon's abilities to keep data secure, compared to only 32 percent for Facebook. Of the organizations included in the poll, people had most faith in government's Social Security Administration to keep their data private, but both Amazon and Apple beat the Internal Revenue Service in consumer confidence.

Apple's 4-point lead over Google could be the result of the company's ongoing attempts to market its privacy credentials over its rival. Apple started to emphasize its encryption techniques and the importance of privacy even before it defied the FBI's orders to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone. Tim Cook published an open letter on Apple's official site that promised to keep its customers' details safe soon after hundreds of celebrities had candid photographs stolen from their iCloud accounts. Cook's company has taken direct potshots at Google over privacy issues ever since, bashing its competitor in everything from its description of its Maps service, to its general privacy policy. For now, though, it seems customers think both companies can be trusted with their data.