A new study by Top10VPN has revealed the apps and devices that internet users trust the most and least. A quick look shows that 64% of people don’t trust any app to use their data in an ethical way. Facebook is the most trusted with 30% of survey participants saying they would trust the app.
The study was released a week before Channel 4 broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal. No other survey of this scale has been conducted in the interim but it is more than likely that Facebook’s approval rating has plummeted following the controversy. This scandal has likely had a knock-on effect on the likes of Instagram which is owned by Facebook. The photo sharing app originally sat in second place with a 16% approval rating.
Both Instagram and Facebook have similar methods of collecting user data. The ‘like’ buttons are used to provide advertisers with data that can hone in on a person’s preferences. Commenting and sharing work in a similar way and since Instagram is owned and run by Facebook the same ads can be shown on both social platforms.
Twitter sits at 15% which, considering the apps troubled history with hate speech, is no surprise. Perhaps most surprising is Snapchat’s placing as least trusted on the survey. At only 7% the survey participants’ untrustworthy view of the app may be because of its location tracking. With the SnapMap functionality as well as the accessibility of the Story and group chat features using data from this app has never been easier for advertisers.
Though all the above apps have location tracking as an option. The ability to add a location to a tweet, ‘check-in’ on Facebook as well as recording locations in Instagram videos and photos is not a required feature but it is a basic necessity when using mapping apps.
When asked which app they trusted the most 56% of respondents said Google Maps. The second most popular option was ‘I don’t trust any mapping apps’ which sat at 38% far above Apple Maps in third place. A great deal more people are willing to trust social networks with their shopping habits, music taste and even their location than they are to trust mapping apps at all.
Google’s many apps proved themselves the most trusted with the likes of Google Maps, Drive, Mail and Chrome winning first place in the tables relating to the trustworthiness of mapping apps, online storage, email and internet browsing. The only table in which Google lost out in was that of payment apps. It’s Wallet app came in third at 19% with PayPal coming in first at 57% and the option ‘I don’t trust any payment apps’ in second with 35%.
PayPal’s position as most trusted is interesting because of its long term goals. PayPal along with other payment apps such as Apple Pay seeks to sell advertisers information about users spending. This way companies can specifically target different users with information relevant to their purchasing habits. What makes PayPal’s position as the most trusted payment app interesting is that, up until recently, the company was pursuing the above practice until a tax evasion crackdown by Canadian authorities forced them to hand over the information.
Compared to how future trends may be used to track our movements and spending habits PayPal’s selling of user information is only the beginning. When asked what form of biometric tracking – fingerprint and facial recognition – they would be comfortable with 67% of participants said they wouldn’t be comfortable with any of the options listed. Only 31% of survey respondents said they would be comfortable with biometric scanning. When it came to facial recognition that tracked movement and spending only 5% and 3% of people said they would be comfortable with such forms of biometric scanning.
A cursory glance at the survey reveals that there is massive lack of trust in most online apps, especially the social networks. This lack of trust has likely worsened thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal which although mostly affecting Facebook and its subsidiaries has had a knock-on effect on other similar platforms. With the DeleteFacebook movement slowly gaining traction it’s time to watch how social networks and apps connected to them respond in the coming months.