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The Verge tech survey 2020

Ahead of the election year, we polled Americans about which big tech companies they trust with their personal information — and which ones should be broken up

The Verge conducted its first national tech survey in the hangover of the 2016 US presidential election, when Americans were beginning to come to grips with the vast reach and influence of big tech platforms. That survey found that the public was increasingly skeptical of Facebook but was still reliant on it, saying they would miss the company’s products if they disappeared. Amazon, on the other hand, remained deeply popular with the American people: a majority of those surveyed said they “greatly liked it.”

Two and a half years later, in the lead-up to another presidential election, those trends have accelerated. A bigger proportion of the population holds a highly favorable view of Amazon, while more people have a very unfavorable view of Facebook than they did in 2016.

More importantly, Americans generally believe the biggest tech companies have too much power and ought to be split up. Among survey respondents:

  • 56 percent said the government should break up tech companies if they control too much of the economy
  • 72 percent said that Facebook has too much power
  • 51 percent said Google and YouTube should be split into separate companies

With multiple investigations now underway against the tech giants at both the state and federal levels — and with the threat of even more regulation should a Democrat win the presidency — there’s good cause for companies to pay attention to the rise of anti-tech sentiment.

The news for tech companies isn’t all bad. Americans believe that Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, and YouTube have an overall positive effect on society. (They’re more likely to think that Twitter, Slack, Instagram, and Facebook have an overall negative effect.)

Microsoft leads big tech companies in the number of Americans who say they trust it, at 75 percent of survey respondents. Amazon is close behind, at 73 percent. Pulling up the rear is Facebook: just 41 percent of Americans say they trust the company to safeguard their personal information.

These are among the findings of the second Verge Tech Trust Survey. This survey was conducted in December with 1,123 people, nationally representative of the US. The sample error is ± 3 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Special thanks to Rani Molla