People can't agree on much in these highly charged partisan times. But one thing they do agree on in the wake of Facebook's privacy scandal: The social network is having a negative impact on society.
That startling finding comes from the latest IBD/TIPP poll, which asked about Facebook (FB) in light of the scandal involving improper use of data on millions of the social network's users. Political consultant Cambridge Analytica is charged with the alleged infractions that occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign. There also are reports of widespread access of Facebook data by the Obama campaign in 2012.
Fully 66% of those surveyed by IBD/TIPP say Facebook's impact on society has been negative. Just 28% say it's been positive.
Political ideology does not factor into the equation, with 63% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans and 69% of independents holding negative views about the company. Nor is there a difference among men and women — 66% of both groups say Facebook's hurting society. However, negative views rise with income, going from 58% among those with incomes under $30,000 to 70% for those with incomes over $75,000.
Not a single one of the 41 demographic or economic breakdowns thinks its impact on society has been positive, the IBD/TIPP poll found.
Facebook's problems only begin there.
Trust Takes A Hit
The poll also found that of those who've been following the data privacy scandal story closely, fully 80% say they are concerned about the privacy of their information on Facebook. Just 19% say they aren't concerned.
Democrats following the story closely are more concerned about their privacy, 85%, than Republicans or independents, 76%.
What's more, half of those following the story closely say they are likely to decrease their use of Facebook as a result. Only 37% said they were unlikely to cut back.
Women are more likely to say they plan to decrease usage than men — 53% vs. 47%. Suburban users also are more likely to cut back than city dwellers — 54% vs. 50%.
Other polls have found similar grim results for the company. The liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling found just 30% of registered voters now have a favorable view of Facebook. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that it ranked last among six big tech companies on trust that they would obey privacy laws.
Facebook stock has plunged 16% since March 16, when the story broke that Cambridge Analytica, which worked with the Trump campaign during the primaries, had apparently obtained personal information on millions of its users without their knowledge. Investor's Business Daily later reported that the company had granted the Obama campaign far wider access to its user database during Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, which might have been in violation of campaign finance laws.
The company also faces congressional probes and increased calls for federal regulations.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is in a battle of words with Apple CEO Tim Cook, after Cook blasted Facebook's business model. Zuckerberg said Cook's statement was "extremely glib and not aligned with the truth."
Facebook's ability to weather this storm remains to be seen. But it does have one thing going for it: more than 2.1 billion active users worldwide.
Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the latest poll from March 22-29. It includes responses from 902 people nationwide, interviewed by live interviewers on cell or landline phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. The questions about the impact of the Facebook scandal on privacy protections and usage went to 66% of respondents who say they've been following the scandal story closely.
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