Skip to main content

Verge Tech Survey 2021

After a year of the pandemic, we asked Americans if their trust in big tech companies has changed — and if the biggest ones should be broken up

Share this story

Illustration by Grayson Blackmon / The Verge

In a year of isolation, fear, sickness, and death, the tech industry provided many of the ways people stayed connected. It also made Americans very aware of their reliance on the major tech companies. So have our attitudes toward them shifted?

Starting in 2017, The Verge has conducted periodic surveys gauging Americans’ attitudes toward the major tech industry; our most recent one was published in March 2020, just before life was upended by the novel coronavirus.

Though the pandemic has changed a lot of American life, our findings reveal that it mostly hasn’t changed our feelings about tech companies. There are some exceptions, though:

Previous tech surveys:

  • Thirteen percent of respondents who were familiar with the brand had unfavorable opinions of Amazon, compared to just 9 percent in 2020.
  • The estimation of Facebook and Twitter also fell among people familiar with them — with 34 percent saying they had unfavorable opinions of Facebook, compared to 29 percent in 2020, and 42 saying they had unfavorable opinions of Twitter, compared to 39 percent in 2020.
  • More people said Apple had a negative impact on society, but that was still just 9 percent of respondents familiar with the brand, compared to 5 percent in 2020. Facebook and Twitter were also more likely to be viewed as bad for society among those who recognized the brands.
  • Among people who don’t use Facebook, 43 percent of them are avoiding it because they don’t like how it does business — a jump from 27 percent in the last survey.

These are surprisingly large shifts in just a year. 2020 was a record profitable year for Amazon as more people relied on it during the pandemic.

We added a new company, TikTok, to our survey this year: 31 percent of people who recognized the brand say it has a negative impact on our society. Also, it’s the brand people most distrust when it comes to personal information, since 64 percent of respondents say they don’t trust it. Facebook and Instagram are the second and third least-trusted brands when it comes to personal information; in both cases, a majority of respondents indicated that they felt the brands were untrustworthy.

There is also an increased interest in breaking up Big Tech. This year, 61 percent of our respondents said that the government should split up tech companies if they get too big; last year, only 56 percent of people said that. Maybe the pandemic drove home how much we rely on these businesses — and how they can change our lives at the drop of a hat.

These are among the findings of the third Verge Tech Trust Survey. This survey was conducted in August with 1,200 people nationally representative of the US. The sample error is ± 3 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 36 minutes ago Not just you

E
Twitter
Emma Roth36 minutes ago
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothAn hour ago
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma Roth5:52 PM UTC
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.